More Pain Ahead for the Footwear Industry

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There is even more pain for the footwear industry, and this includes the retailing shops that rely on shoe sales. It is no secret Americans in general need to be buying more athletic shoes, but that boom in demand needs has been met with omnichannel shopping changes, it has been Amazon’d like so many other retailer and apparel makers, and there is fierce competition right now between the top brands in the industry.

Foot Locker Inc. (NYSE: FL) reported its fiscal second-quarter financial results before the markets opened on Friday, and a huge whiff of an earnings report sent its shares to multiyear lows. Here is how bad the report was: Foot Locker had $0.62 in earnings per share (EPS) and $1.7 billion in revenue, well under the consensus estimates from Thomson Reuters of $0.90 EPS and revenue of $1.8 billion. And a year ago, those figures then were $0.94 EPS and $1.78 billion in revenue.

Investors in the sportswear industry have felt pain. They may have to face more of the same ahead until everyone figures out who will survive and thrive, and when they finally decide that uncanny valuations are there for the taking. Analysts have chimed in on Foot Locker, but they have also gutted other peer companies and some of the apparel makers in the sports and in the so-called athleisure sector.

As far as post-earnings calls from Foot Locker itself, this had shares down another 5.5% at $32.50 on Monday. Robert W. Baird and JPMorgan both cut their ratings to Neutral. Other price target cuts were seen: Barclays (to $50), Citigroup (to $40), FBR (to $40), Susquehanna (to $40) and Wedbush (to $45).

Monday’s top analyst calls showed that Dow component Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) was downgraded to Hold from Buy and the price target was cut to $60 from $75 at Jefferies. That compared with a $57.46 prior closing price, in a 52-week range of $49.01 to $60.53, and with a consensus analyst target price of $62.18. Nike shares were last seen trading down 2.3% at $53.68 on Monday. The Jefferies report on Nike said:

Nike remains a top brand in a solid industry, but our mosaic of five data sources suggests growth and margins are at risk ahead. With expectations for less robust fundamentals, Nike’s premium valuation conflicts with intensifying US competition unfolding.

Finish Line Inc. (NASDAQ: FINL) was down almost 8% at $10.13 on Monday. The firm Monness Crespi Hardt downgraded Finish Line to Neutral from Buy. UBS also lowered its rating to Sell with a $9 target from a prior Neutral rating and a prior $14 target.

Hibbett Sports Inc. (NASDAQ: HIBB) saw BMO Capital Markets lower its price target to $10 from $13. Hibbett also saw Canaccord Genuity cut its target price to $11 from $14, and Susquehanna cut its target to $11 from $15. A more positive target is from SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, but it still lowered that price target to $13 from $18. Hibbett Sports shares were actually up over 4% at $11.38 on Monday, but this was a $14.00 stock just a week earlier.

Under Armour Inc. (NYSE: UA) did not see its shares mentioned as poorly among Monday’s analyst downgrade brigade. That being said, its stock was still down 2.7% at $15.21. Its 52-week high is now $42.94, and Under Armour is among the companies that have totally lost their narratives.

If you were hoping for a recovery in the footwear industry in 2017, that may have to wait. Richard Johnson, chairman and chief executive officer of Foot Locker, said with earnings last week:

While we believe our position in the market for premium sneakers remains very strong and our customers continue to look to us for compelling new athletic footwear and apparel styles. sales of some recent top styles fell well short of our expectations and impacted this quarter’s results. At the same time, we were affected by the limited availability of innovative new products in the market.  We believe these industry dynamics will persist through 2017, and we expect comparable sales to be down three to four percent over the remainder of the year.

A serious issue for investors is that they want to buy growth. If growth isn’t present, they want to buy some stability and value. The problem with viewing these companies solely as stocks is that they do not offer value, and the ones that do have troubling sales trends and the expectations that those troubles will continue.

Investors targeting the sports apparel and the footwear market probably feel like the shares gave them bunions or an acute gout attack.