Nike Inc.'s (NKE) earnings report in September brought the stock down harshly, but the shares still have crushed the U.S. market this year.
Nike shares have fallen almost 14% since it beat fiscal first-quarter earnings estimates in September but reported a slower gross margin expansion as a result of higher product costs. For next year, not only are investors worried about the impact of Donald Trump's tariffs on Nike's margins, but a global economic slowdown is likely in the cards for 2019. Investors have been hesitant to pile back into stocks, especially more cyclical ones like Nike.
"With the stock -15% since 1Q EPS, 2Q results should help to calm investors fears of a China and/or broader international slowdown," Morgan Stanley analyst Lauren Cassel wrote in a note Tuesday.
Nike reports earnings Dec. 20, and analysts expect the athletic shoe and apparel company to post adjusted earnings per share of 46 cents on revenue of $9.17 billion.
The stock's move backward renders it meaningfully undervalued, Cassel wrote. A good earnings report could do the stock some serious good. "We expect the event to be a positive catalyst for the stock and view the pullback as a compelling entry point," Cassel said.
Cassel expects an earnings beat for the quarter, which isn't unreasonable, as Nike has beaten estimates on adjusted EPS in each of its last eight earnings reports. "We expect a 2Q revenue and EPs beat driven by strong product acceptance, greater full price selling, and continued international strength," Cassel said.
Investors will be keying in on Nike's direct-to-consumer initiative in the earnings report, but perhaps more importantly they want to see China revenue do well. The Chinese consumer is expected to spend at a slower clip in 2019. "Investors want to see Greater China deliver at least +17% constant currency revenue growth," Cassel said.
Many investors are also expecting Nike to beat expectations. In an environment where companies are beating on earnings expectations but seeing their stocks go nowhere, Nike may have a tall task to impress Wall Street.
Some retailers like Kohl's Corp. (KSS) have reported strong earnings, but have seen their stocks get hurt as forward-looking guidance hasn't impressed.