Nike Inc. (NKE) - Get Report shares traded at a record high Wednesday as the world's biggest sports equipment group posted stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings thanks to solid sales growth in China and gains from its apparel business linked to the women's soccer World Cup.
Nike said earnings for the three months ending in August, the company's fiscal first quarter, came in at 86 cents per share, up 28% from the same period last year and well ahead of the Street consensus forecast of 71 cents per share. Group revenues, Nike said, rose 7% to $10.7 billion on a currency-neutral basis, again topping analysts' estimates of a $10.43 billion tally.
China sales rose 22% from last year, Nike said, a figure that rises to 27% when the impact of the stronger U.S. dollar is stripped out of the final reading. North American sales rose 4%, a modestly softer-than-expected reading for Nike's home market, but that figure was offset by both a surge in women's apparel sales and a big improvement in the group's gross profit margin.
"We were all inspired by the incredible athletes and performances at the Women's World Cup," CEO Mark Parker told investors on a conference call late Tuesday. "It was also a tremendous stage for NIKE innovation."
"During the all-NIKE final, we also debuted our top football boot innovation, the Mercurial 2019," he added. "In addition, apparel revenue from the 2019 Women's World Cup was 4x bigger than it was for the 2015 event. Across the wider business, we stayed intensely focused on the apparel classifications that matter the most to the female athlete; bras and tights."
Nike shares gained 5% in the opening hours of trading Wednesday to change hands at $91.50 each, an all-time high and a move that would extends the stock's year-to-date advance to around 24%.
"All things considered, we are raising our FY20 sales and EPS estimates," said Pivotal Research analyst Mitch Kummetz. "Going into this print, we were a little concerned that NKE would tick down its sales outlook for the year, based on greater FX headwinds. This obviously didn't happen, given a better (currency neutral) outlook than before, which speaks to the strength of its underlying business."
"Going into this print, we also talked about NKE's relative strength, how it was taking share, which was the main reason for our bullishness on the stock," he added. "In short, we believe that NKE's 1Q results and FY20 outlook speak to this relative strength."