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Nike stock could take a hit as Foot Locker stumbles, analysts say

Nike (NKE) might have a Foot Locker (FL) problem.

After Foot Locker slashed its full-year sales forecast amid what it described as a "tough macroeconomic backdrop,” there is growing concern on Wall Street that Nike may also be caught in the crosshairs.

“We are reducing NIKE estimates to reflect indications of slowing U.S. consumer spend and U.S. athletic footwear channel inventory imbalances,” Stifel analyst Jim Duffy wrote in a note to clients. “Foot Locker results, commentary, and outlook highlight headwinds.”

Foot Locker’s first-quarter release before the bell on Friday has sent the stock tumbling more than 30% through two trading sessions. It highlighted declining same-store sales that could sink as much as 9% this year and “higher than average” inventories in the first quarter.

Nike accounts for more than 70% of Foot Locker’s sales and is now seeing its stock drop on Foot Locker's print, with shares down nearly 3% on Monday.

Foot Locker reported non-Nike penetration increasing to 35% in the first quarter, which equates to mid teens decreases for Nike sales, largely driven by weakness in lifestyle running, per Wedbush securities analyst Tom Nikic.

But it's not just about the performance last quarter. On a call with investors on Friday, Foot Locker referenced clearing inventory and increasing promotions through the end of the year to eventually bring newness to its stores.

With sporting goods recently having been the worst-performing segment in monthly retail sales, Foot Locker’s outlook has cast a shadow over demand in the sector. In a note titled “opening downside 90-day catalyst watch,” Citi analyst Paul Lejuez wrote a consumer slowdown and inventory overhang in the North American athletic apparel market reflects poorly on Nike’s fiscal-year expectations.

“Given the seemingly high inventory levels in the channel (in footwear in particular) following a pullback in spending from lower-income consumers, we believe the margin setup may not be as favorable as previously thought,” Lejueze wrote.

Nike shoes are seen displayed at a sporting goods store in New York City, New York, U.S., May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Nike shoes are seen displayed at a sporting goods store in New York City, New York, U.S., May 14, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

What a ‘consumer spending slowdown’ means for Nike

Beyond the inventory equation, analysts argue Nike also faces issues from a general overall slowdown in discretionary spending.

“Athletic footwear brands have been speaking about excess inventory in the channel. Some have assumed the excess is from brands other than Nike,” UBS analyst Jay Sole wrote in a note to clients on Friday. “However, with FL's news on comps and shrink, the market is likely to conclude Nike is also feeling the effects of the soft good consumer spending slowdown which began in March.”

Retail analyst Sam Poser at Williams Trading cut his rating on the stock from Neutral to Sell on Monday. Poser believes the issues go beyond inventories at wholesales and stem from a slowdown in direct-to-consumer demand for some of Nike’s traditionally popular shoes.

The company, which built its digital brand around exclusive drops and the increased interest in sneaker culture now might be experiencing consumers that are “trained to look for promotions.” Poser suggests StockX and other secondary sellers are now selling Nike shoes below the manufacturer’s suggested price and in turn are becoming competitive to Nike’s own business.

“Nike, both online and in its outlet stores is promoting many styles that are made for premium distribution at prices under $100 that are now competing with shoes sold in the family footwear channel,” Poser wrote. “Now, family footwear retailers are promoting their Nike styles, at least partially due to the pressure.”

Nike is expected to provide its latest quarterly results on June 20.

Josh is a reporter for Yahoo Finance.

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