Why 2020 Is Looking Better and Better for Nike

December 5, 2019 by Jon C. Ogg

There are some times in the markets when none of the traditional cautions seem to matter. Some U.S. companies do the bulk of their manufacturing overseas and may face continued tariff woes in 2020, and many U.S. companies have significant exposure to China and other developing markets where growth has slowed. Just don’t bother thinking any of this matters for Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE). That’s at least the message that Wall Street has been sending to Main Street.

On top of Nike ditching its online sales effort through Amazon.com, John Donahoe is set to take over as Nike’s new president and chief executive officer in January. Donahoe is set to take the reins from Mark Parker, who has been there since 2006, and Parker will become board chair and continue to lead the board of directors. While Donahoe has been on Nike’s board since 2014, he has more than a decade of experience with digital, software and commerce after having run ServiceNow.

Nike also announced a dividend hike in November wherein its payout was raised by 11%. The dividend will be an annualized $0.98 per share, giving it an annualized yield of about 1.03%.

Nike received a very positive analyst upgrade on Thursday, but this situation goes well beyond one day. Nike seems to be snagging upgrade after upgrade, with every analyst stepping over the head of the next to get ever higher price targets, and that’s even with a 26% year-to-date gain and after Nike decided to go it alone in e-commerce rather than continuing to sell through the Amazon platform.

Thursday’s big analyst call in the top upgrades and downgrades showed that Goldman Sachs upgraded Nike to Buy from Neutral and raised its $95 price target to $112. Goldman Sachs also added Nike to its Conviction Buy List, making it among the firm’s top preliminary picks for 2020. One interesting aspect of the call is that China is expected to be a growth driver for Nike at the same time that the company is called an innovator and disruptor against other brands in a manner that may garner multiple years of continued growth. Goldman Sachs is even looking for margins to rise along with its return on invested capital, followed by a sharp acceleration in earnings growth.

Morgan Stanley reiterated its Overweight rating on Nike on December 4, and it also raised its already-positive $112 price target to $118 in the call.

Also on December 4, Zacks named Nike its Bull of the Day. The independent research firm’s view is that Nike has outpaced its broader industry in 2019 and looks poised to continue to expand around the globe into 2020.

An updated report from CFRA on November 30 reiterated the independent firm’s Buy rating and $105 target price, with CFRA saying that Nike’s sales should rise 7.9% in 2020 (May year-end) and then by 8.1% in 2021. It sees over 20% growth in China and sees North American growth being rekindled as the company shifts its operational model from undifferentiated wholesale to differentiated retail concepts.

Back on November 12, Barclays initiated coverage as Overweight with a $111 price target.

On November 5, in a call that already feels a bit outdated or behind the curve based on the more recent targets issued, Raymond James initiated coverage on with an Outperform rating and a $100 target price.

Credit Suisse reiterated its Outperform rating in late October, along with a $112 price target. What stood out in this call was its Blue Sky Scenario, in which Nike could reach $135 if revenue growth and EBITDA margin growth surprise to the upside.

Nike shares traded up 1.4% at $95.05 on Thursday. The prior consensus price target was just $102.40, and the 52-week trading range is $66.53 to $96.87. Nike’s market cap is about $148 billion.


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