NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Investors are running from Nike (NKE) amid fears that slowing demand in Brazil and Europe will hurt 2015 earnings in 2015, with shares down more than 3% on Friday.

But investors may be overlooking strong sales of footwear in the second quarter, particularly for basketball sneakers. 


"There are a few places where we've seen some of the [slowing] macro-economies start to, at least in the near term, affect consumer confidence," said Nike President and Chief Executive Mark Parker during Thursday evening's second-quarter earnings call. "Brazil's an example of that, and certainly we think over time we've got to keep a close eye on Russia."

Slowing economic growth in key overseas markets was captured in the company's future orders. 

Nike's global futures orders excluding currency translation, which gives investors insight into the consumer appetite for footwear and apparel months in advance, rose 11% in the second quarter. Wall Street was looking for an 11.3% increase.  

Comments from Nike on cooling demand overseas overshadowed robust sales of footwear in the quarter. Footwear comprised about 58% of the company's sales in the first six months of its latest fiscal year. 

Footwear sales, excluding currency translation, were led by 32%, 30%, and 26% year-over-year gains in Central and Eastern Europe, China, and Western Europe, respectively. Sales in North America rose 18%.

"It was the 13th-consecutive quarter of double-digit sales growth in the basketball category," Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand, said during the earnings call.

He pointed to the new Lebron 12, KD 7 and assorted retro Jordan sneakers as standout performers not only in the United States, but also in China and Europe. 

Skittish investors should take heart that Nike's retail partners in the mall are seeing a hearty appetite for its marquee basketball footwear styles, where the Jordan brand reigns supreme.

"Jordan product remains very strong in all of its components. Jordan marquee was strong, Jordan sportswear was outstanding, and so were retros [sneakers]," said Foot Locker (FL) Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dick Johnson during a Nov. 21 earnings call, adding that sales of basketball footwear were up by double digits for the quarter. 
 
Foot Locker referred to Nike's "Big Three" Jordan brands of Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant and LeBron James as leading the sales growth.

Company executives hinted at another future sales driver in Nike-sponsored athlete Kyrie Irving, the young Cleveland Cavaliers point guard tasked with passing the rock to James.

Meanwhile, at Finish Line (FINL) , the latest read on Jordan related sales have largely mirrored Foot Locker's, except for sluggish sales in select "lifestyle" sneaker categories, which are those not specifically designed for on the court wearing.

"Retro Jordan [sneakers] continue to be in high demand and sold through well, as did bring-back models like True Flight," Finish Line Chairman and Chief Executive Glenn Lyon said during a Sept. 26 earnings call.

The basketball business for Finish Line primarily comprises the Jordan brand, representing more than 50% of that business. Finish Line's same-store sales in September were up by a high-single digit percentage, with "specific strength" stemming from the release of the new Jordan retro 2014 sneaker, meant to tap into the early versions of sneakers worn by the iconic Jordan.

The Jordan brand took the "lion's share" of basketball footwear sales over the Thanksgiving period from Nov 23. to Nov. 29, according to research firm NPD Group.

Nearly all the Jordan brand's dollar sales came from the new Jordan IV Retro Mid, according to NPD Group.

On Dec. 24, Nike will release three new Jordan brand basketball sneaker styles: the Jordan CP3, Jordan Melo M11 and Jordan Superfly Fly 3. The pre-Christmas Day offerings will be closely followed by a new line of sneakers and apparel for young girls, about age 12, hitting the market next month.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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