1. POTENTIAL CEO SUCCESSORS: An April shakeup in the executive ranks of Nike has set off speculation that a three-man battle is underway for the opportunity to succeed Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker, Bloomberg reported. Michael Spillane, who was promoted in April to president of product and merchandising, Chief Operating Officer Eric Sprunk, and Nike Brand President Trevor Edwards have been rumored to in the running for the CEO role.
2. WEAKENING ATHLETIC APPAREL CATEGORY: On June 1, Nike was downgraded to Equal Weight from Overweight at Morgan Stanley, with analyst Jay Sole saying that the U.S. athletic apparel category has weakened and competition is increasing. SportScan data indicates Nike's Q1 US core channel sales growth slowed, driven by retail bankruptcies, consumers' shift to online shopping and major supply chain issues. In a June 22 research note, Cowen analyst John Kernan said that industry apparel sell-through data has shown a slowing for the Nike brand within North America, adding that his, and the consensus, Q1 expectations could be aggressive given top-line headwinds from North America.
3. LOST MARKET SHARE TO RIVALS Meanwhile, BofA/Merrill analyst Robert Ohmes said on June 1 that he believes Nike is losing share in North America for the first time since 2010 and that Under Armour (UA) - Get Report and Adidas (ADDYY) are now leading market share growth. Channel checks indicate elevated product in outlet store and off-price channels due to weakness in technical footwear and apparel sell-through, the analyst wrote. At that time, Sole said Adidas' strategic changes has helped it regain U.S. brand momentum and Under Armour's (UA) Steph Curry basketball footwear has taken 800bps of share from Nike year-to-date. On June 16, OTR Global said Nike continues to limit product distribution and shutter retail accounts to control growth, but its ability to raise footwear pricing is facing challenges, especially in the United States and Europe. The firm downgraded the stock to Mixed from Positive.
4. GUIDANCE: Among analysts' concerns is whether Nike's North American business can continue to record sales growth amid rising inventory and supply-chain stumbles, The Wall Street Journal said on June 27. Cowen analyst Kernan expects Nike will reiterate its fiscal 2017 guidance, but potentially give a "noisy" Q1 view. On June 20, Piper Jaffray analyst Erinn Murphy kept an Overweight rating on Nike, and said she expects Nike's management to reaffirm its FY17 guidance of low-teens EPS, which is weighted towards the second half of the year in nature given spending around the Olympics. Stifel said on June 6 that it expects the company to report in-line Q4 EPS and maintain its full year guidance.
5. PARTNERSHIPS: Nike may offer comments on its partnerships with retailers, including Foot Locker (FL) - Get Report and Kohl's (KSS) - Get Report , as they head into the back-to-school season. In May, Kohl's said Nike comps were "very strong."
Reporting by Laurie Pasternack Chan.
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