Nike Inc.'s (NKE) - Get Report main rivals saw solid market gains Thursday amid reports that its signature running shoe, used by the first person to break the two hour marathon barrier, could be banned by World Athletics officials.
Multiple media reports suggest a World Athletics working group met this week to discuss banning the $250 shoes, which are known as Nike Vaporfly Next% and carry a lightweight midsole foam called Pebax as well as a carbon fiber plate.
The construction, critics argue, gives runners an unfair advantage by increasing the energy return an athlete receives with each footfall. A 2017 report lead by sports scientist Wouter Hoogkamer suggested the shoes could help top athletes run "substantially faster".
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge wore a controversial upgrade to the Nike shoes -- known as Alphafly -- last October when he broke the 2 hour marathon barrier by 20 seconds at a company-arranged event in Vienna, while five of the fastest times on record have been recorded by Vaporfly-wearing athletes over the past 18 months.
“The challenge for the IAAF is to find the right balance in the technical rules between encouraging the development and use of new technologies in athletics and the preservation of the fundamental characteristics of the sport: accessibility, universality and fairness,” the governing body said in a statement last year when it opened its investigation into the shoes.
Adidas AG, Nike's main competitor in the global sportswear sector, saw its shares rise 0.05% on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange Thursday, compared to a 0.12% decline for the broader DAX performance index.
Overnight in Asia, smaller rival Asics Corp surged more than 8% in Japan before paring that gain to around 2.5% by the close of trading. Mizuno Corp shares were also marked modestly higher by the end of the trading session in Tokyo.
Nike shares, meanwhile, were indicated 0.4% in early Thursday trading at $102.60 each, extending a six month gain that has lifted the stock 15.8% to the upside.