Nike (NKE) , the iconic sportswear maker, has faced a lot of flak recently, prompting some observers to question the stock's future.

Shares of the leading sportswear brand are down close to 20% year to date, almost the same as rival Under Armour, which has faced growing pains. By contrast, Adidas has had a good run this year, rising by 54%.

Nike has lost market share to these two companies and to others.

However, Nike is a smart value play. The company remains among the world's most recognized consumer brands. It has an enviable track record of generating revenue and profits and maintaining solid cash-flow growth. Moreover, it has demonstrated a repeated ability to anticipate and meet consumer tastes. Case in point are its entry into high fashion and use of environmentally conscious materials and manufacturing methods. Start buying the stock on dips as it enters the oversold territory.

With revenue of more than $33 billion over the past 12 months, Nike has used its scale to its advantage and maintained operating margins in the 13%-14% range for at least a decade.

Yet Nike's products sometimes suffer from cyclicality, and analysts have had some concerns about it recently.

The recent negativity surrounding the company has been chiefly due to a Bank of America/Merrill Lynch downgrade, which predicted an erosion of market share to rivals, including Under Armour.

Bank of America warned of slower-than-expected revenue growth and some shaky results from Nike itself.

But Nike continues to be a top preference for teens when it comes to clothing and footwear. It has even gained has traction in running and leisure footwear, helped by millennials who display allegiance toward power brands.

Nike still rules professional sports. It has a major sponsorship deal with Lebron James, the NBA star who is among the world's most recognizable athletes and perhaps its greatest players. Sales of its Air Jordan line named for former basketball star Michael Jordan remain strong. 

In soccer, Nike landed a deal with Chelsea, one of the English Premier League's most popular teams, to provide uniforms, and it renewed ties with La Liga Spanish Football League. Those two professional leagues are arguably the world's best.

Nike continues to drive innovation with its self-lacing HyperAdapt 1.0 shoe that's estimated to hit stores around Nov. 28

Wall Street's negative view on Nike is shortsighted. With analysts expecting 9.7% earnings per share growth this year and a nearly 14% uptick thereafter, Nike should clock average annual growth about 12% over the next five years. That's good growth in a broader lackluster market.

Trading at a price/earnings-to-growth ratio of 1.8, Nike is extremely attractive. Competitors Adidas (9.3), Under Armour (2.55), and the smaller Columbia Sportswear (2.36) have higher PEG ratios.

It's a great time to start buying Nike shares. Analysts see a clear 25% profit-making opportunity in the next 12 months.

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The author is an independent contributor who at the time of publication owned none of the stocks mentioned.

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