Ambitious Goals Set High Expectations For Nike

  • Nike's failure to meet high revenue expectations caused panic among investors, regardless of their bottom line.
  • The high Wall Street estimates can be partially blamed on Nike, as they had promised big growth on the horizon.
  • Although it may appear that the company has fallen off track to meet their 2020 revenue goals, they remain a stable investment with a big upside potential.

Nike (NYSE:NKE) took an unexpected and possibly unwarranted hit after missing third-quarter revenue forecasts. The company posted EPS of 55 cents; an increase of 22% compared to the same quarter of the year prior, beating Wall Street estimates of 48 cents. But the bottom line growth passed right through investors as they saw them miss revenue estimates of $8.2 billion by about 2%. Revenue came in at $8.03 billion, which represents an 8% increase from the prior year. So how can a big gain in EPS and an 8% increase in topline growth be outshined by a 2% miss on revenue?

Nike had promised to hit a very ambitious goal of reaching $50 billion in annual sales by 2020. That statement had quite a few investors, including myself, re-evaluate what Nike might be worth.

NKE-valuation mode, ND

According to my DCF, I believed that Nike would hit about $33.7 billion for FY 2016. In order for them to do so, they would have to increase fourth quarter sales by 23% compared to the year prior. That kind of revenue growth is too much to base the model around. What this means is that Nike is likely to slow their annual growth this year compared to last year's 10%. If they increase Q4 revenue by 10%, they can finish the year at about $32.7 billion.

This would give them an annual growth of about 7% for the fiscal year 2016. Given their size and competition from established and rising competitors, this kind of growth is nothing to laugh about. However, it doesn’t seem to fall in line with their ambitious goals. For the last 2 years Nike has seen about 10% growth each year, but 2016 is set up for a more moderate growth. This definitely places more pressure on Nike to grow in future quarters as I had modeled revenue for 2017 to increase by 12% from higher sales projections (assuming 10% growth in 2016) before scaling down to 11%, 9% & 9% in 2018, 2019 and 2020 respectively.

I think there were many people like myself that thought Nike would have a big quarter on revenue growth due to their $50 billion projection. This places them in a position where they will have to make up some lost ground to really support their ambitious growth goals.

But let’s not forget the good…

Nike still beat EPS estimates handily. However, we can chalk up much of this improved bottom line to a significantly lower tax rate of 16.3%, compared to 24.4% for the same quarter of the year prior, which is mainly due to the earnings received outside of the United States. But Nike has never struggled to turn impressive results along their bottom line. For FY 2015, they reported FCF in excess of $3.7 billion. The company has strong fundamentals. Their current dividend yield is a modest 1%, but as you can see from the chart below, they have a good history of consistent moderate dividend increases and have a sustainable payout ratio of 26.57% for the trailing twelve months.


Source: YCharts

Even on the growth front, Nike is still making some impressive strides in various markets, as you can see below.  International growth is the one saving grace for them to still reach their $50 billion revenue goal.  If they can not only continue a high single digit growth rate in North America, but also continue on a stable growth path of mid double-digit growth in China and pick up some lost ground in emerging markets, they can still attain their revenue goal.  That kind of high growth rate compounded annually can make a significant impact on their top line by 2020.


Source: Nike's 10-Q


There is no reason for shareholders to panic because of Nike’s recent revenue miss. Nike’s expectations of hitting $50 billion in annual sales by 2020 might be seeming a bit more out of reach, however, it is not impossible. If Nike were to come close to that goal then shareholders will be rewarded greatly. But even if they fall short, they have solid fundamentals and are a great company that is priced fairly.

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