It’s time to like shares of Nike, according to Credit Suisse analysts Christian Buss and others.
“We are becoming increasingly bullish on Nike as we see a series of incremental revenue catalysts that suggest the recent period of market share losses will moderate in 2017,” they said.
In fact, they say, there are already signs of optimism if one looks at enthusiasm for Nike’s brand online.
“Our online sentiment analysis with partner Netbase shows brand sentiment for Nike reaching peak levels over the last 6 months,” they noted. “Nike’s historical sentiment has averaged a score of 76. Over the last six months, Nike’s sentiment has averaged a score of 82.”
In particular, the analysts pointed to five reasons for their bullish call on Nike in 2017.
Next Big Product
Nike is set to release the Air VaporMax, its new lightweight running shoe touted to be the lightest Air Max ever made, later this month. The company released its first Air Max, which uses air cushioning at the heel, in 1987. Credit Suisse sees the event as Nike’s “next big product innovation after a five year gap.”
Nike may also have learned to price its shoes better after trying to cash in too much on its premium status.
“After a period of enforcing an elevated pricing architecture (launches at the $US160-200 price point versus the historical range of $US120-150) which we believed to be above consumer’s range of willingness to pay, recent Kyrie Irving and LeBron releases show the company has moved back into a more normalized pricing band,” they said.
Advertising has always been Nike’s forte with its founder Phil Knight’s ability to rope in celebrities to endorse the brand. But over the years, Credit Suisse thinks, Nike “may have missed opportunities to collaborate with celebrities in order to enhance the lifestyle aspects of their product as well as leverage enormous social media power.”
However, “we are encouraged to see Nike add more celebrity endorsers,” they said, including Singer Drake and Kevin Hart.
Nike is now the official apparel provider and merchandiser for NBA’s 2017-18 season, beating competitor Adidas.
“Nike will be the first apparel partner to have its logo appear on uniforms. That equates to over 2,000 hours of onscreen advertising for the brand per season,” they noted. By bagging NBA rights, Nike has “blocked competitors from gaining this important foothold in the basketball market,” they further said.
Finally, the analysts said, competition from companies like Under Armour now look less threatening to Nike’s dominant market position.
“While Under Armour continues to grow its footwear business at an impressive rate (up 50% Y/Y in 2016 to reach $US1B in annual sales), the initial explosive growth of the Curry signature basketball line looks to have declined from initial levels,” they said.
Nike’s stock is up about 1.5% in morning trading on Tuesday, and up about 13% since the beginning of the year.