Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE), the once red-hot athletic gear maker, is in trouble. It shares have dropped 20% this year to just under $50. No other stock in the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down as much. The Dow itself is up a modest 2.7% to 17,888.28.
Nike has underperformed the Dow for the past full year as well, down 24% against a flat index. Over a period of two years, the story is somewhat better. Nike is up 6%, while the Dow is up 2%. Nike’s former strength as a growth stock only shows up in an analysis of its five-year stock performance. It has risen 107% over that period, against the Dow at 47%.
Nike does still have a growth stock pedigree. Its fiscal 2014 revenue was $28 billion, which rose to $30.6 billion in fiscal 2015 and $32.4 billion last year.
Nike’s most recent earnings were more fuel for the frustration investors have that global rival Adidas, and smaller competitor Under Armour, are stealing share. In its fiscal first quarter, Nike posted:
• Revenues up 8 percent to $9.1 billion; 10 percent growth excluding currency changes
• Diluted earnings per share up 9% to $0.73 compared to prior year
• Worldwide futures orders up 5 percent; 7 percent growth excluding currency changes
• Inventories as of August 31, 2016 up 11 percent
At 10%, Nike barely qualifies as a growth stock any longer.
Another primary concern about Nike is the race for athlete endorsements. Some of the top ones can command tens of millions of dollars. However, brand marketers like associations with all-stars. Michael Jordan is at the head of the list for Nike. Nike’s rivals recently have entered into an ever larger number of endorsements of their own, thinning out the pool for big athletic talent.
Nike may still be the largest athletic gear maker in the world, but some of that position has eroded quickly.