LeBron James sells a lot of basketball sneakers for Nike (NKE) - Get NIKE, Inc. (NKE) Report and is also a businessman that talks frequently about investing with billionaire Warren Buffett, so it's logical that he is keeping track of the sportswear maker's stock price.
And the NBA star seemed well aware of Nike's stock crash on Wednesday. According to Cleveland.com, LeBron James' said on Wednesday that he knew about Nike's tough trading session, adding, "At the end of the day if Nike hits the fan then we're all in trouble. Everybody."
Shares of the sneaker king plunged 7% to $53.93 on Wednesday after reporting third quarter revenue rose 5% to $8.4 billion, a hair under analysts' expectations of $8.47 billion. However, Nike posted earnings of 68 cents a share, crushing Wall Street's estimations for 53 cents a share.
The market's response was likely a result of the slight sales miss and because the company's gross margins declined 140 basis points to 44.5% due to higher product costs, unfavorable changes in foreign exchange rates and the impact of higher off-price sales. Further, Nike revealed on the earnings call that futures orders in North America -- a key measure of future demand from major retailers -- fell a worrying 9%.
Meanwhile, revenue for the Nike brand alone rose 7% to $7.9 billion during the three months ended Feb. 28, while Converse sales increased 3% to $498 million, driven by strength in North America.
"Now it's more important than ever for Nike to stay true to our own values and leverage our competitive advantages," Nike CEO Mark Parker said on a conference call. "There will always be room to improve but I'm proud of the way we're managing our business today and I'm bullish on our opportunity to extend our leadership position for tomorrow."
Parker said the company will double down on investing in innovation, speed and direct-to-consumer sales through digital offerings and plans to cut its product creation cycle in half. With consumers deciding that "digital isn't just part of the shopping experience" but the "foundation" of it, Parker said Nike is driving e-commerce, which saw an 18% boost in the third quarter.
"We're moving faster than ever before getting products to market in weeks not months," Parker said. "Through express lanes, we're feeding consumer demand through new localized styles."
Despite the revenue miss, Nike has made a stellar comeback from last year when it saw its stock fall 18%, due to overall retail challenges and heightened competition from Under Armour (UA) - Get Under Armour, Inc. Class C Report and Adidas (ADDYY) .
"Last year we were losing share in the basketball market in North America and now we're taking it back," said Nike's Jeffrey Allen Miller, Chief Health, Safety and Environment officer and director, on the call.
Miller said the Nike Air Jordan 11 Retro Space Jam shoe remains the "largest and most successful launch in the history of Nike."
Wall Street largely chose to stay upbeat on Nike's prospects even in the face of the stock market's harsh response.
"We stay the course with a long-term favorable view and buy rating as Nike remains a traffic driving consumer brand with pricing power (far from a commodity in retail) and the company's new "Triple-Double" plan to double the (a) cadence and scale of product innovation, (b) speed of the supply chain, and (c) direct connections with the consumer, which should lead to an acceleration in the top and bottom lines in fiscal year 2018 and beyond," wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Paul Trussell.