Nike Has Best 2017 Dow Performance, Up 6%

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It may be a dead-cat bounce. After a horrible 2016, shares of Dow Jones Industrial Average component Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) are up 6.1% so far this year to $53.91. The Dow has risen 1.2% to 19,963.8, not far from the magical 20,000 threshold.

Much of the talk about Nike in the past week actually has been negative. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) will start its own athletic brands. Recode reported that the start of Amazon’s efforts would be in the “activewear” category. This ought to make Nike less attractive to investors.

Jon Ogg, our editor, made a case on Nike’s behalf:

Nike was the worst performing Dow stock of 2016, and by far. Its simple price drop was almost 19%, and its total return including dividends screened out at −17.7% for a closing price of $50.83 on December’s last trading day. Nike has a lot of room to improve upon its weak dividend, even if it faces endless competition from the likes of such brands as Under Armour, Adidas and Reebok. The real question here is what investors should really expect in 2017.

If analysts somehow get back on track, something they missed in early 2016 and late in 2015, their consensus analyst price target of $62.00 would imply upside of 22% in 2017. That would make for a total return expectation of over 23%, if you include the 1.4% dividend yield.

What is amazing is that Nike beat earnings estimates in its latest quarterly report. Still, concerns over future orders linger, with a very competitive sportswear and athleisure landscape leaving the opportunity for everyone’s margins to compress.

What if analysts are just too pessimistic here, considering how much Nike can is expected to grow earnings ahead? Jefferies recently decided that Nike should be an investor Top Pick for 2017, with a $75 target price issued in late 2016. Also, Nomura has a $60 target on Nike shares, and other analysts were positive late in the month as well.

Nike raised its dividend payout by 10% (to $0.18 from $0.16 per quarter per share) in November, and the company could be a rather large beneficiary of repatriation of cash if potential Trump taxes bringing products in do not hurt the company. The company is also spending billions on promotional and endorsement activities that are larger than many companies on advertising and marketing segments.

Nike shares have a 52-week trading range of $49.01 to $65.44, and the market cap of $85 billion. Its dividend yield is 1.4%.