Can Nike Outrun a Ban on Its Latest Shoes?

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Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) has made great strides over the past year, not only with its shares up incredibly but also its new Vaporfly Next% shoes have dominated the running scene.

However, there are concerns that World Athletics (formerly the International Association of Athletic Federations) will ban the shoes from competition. This comes as allegations that the shoe’s unique design provides an unfair advantage to runners.

Vaporfly has come under scrutiny amid claims that its foam and carbon fiber composition in the sole acts as a spring that gives runners an edge by providing an increased forward push on each stride.

Separately, there are concerns that the long-term health risks of the shoe’s design and the impact that it might have on runners who primarily use their heels rather than toes as springboards in their strides.

On the other hand (or foot), this shoe was worn by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei when she set the record for the fastest marathon time for a woman, winning the women’s event of the Chicago Marathon this last October. Also, this shoe helped propel Kenyan running champion Eliud Kipchoge when he was the first-ever athlete to break the two-hour mark for a marathon, which was once thought impossible.

As a result of this potential ban, over-the-counter shares of rival shoe company Asics saw a bump on Thursday. Japanese shoemaker Mizuno saw a small gain as well. Although some might call this a hollow victory, as news of the ban will only bring more attention to Nike’s shoe line.

Excluding Thursday’s move, Nike stock had outperformed the broad markets with about 32% gain in the past 52 weeks. In the past quarter, though, the stock was up only 8%.

Shares of Nike were last seen up about 0.5% at $103.35, in a 52-week range of $77.07 to $103.89. The consensus price target is $109.78.

Asics traded up about 4% to $15.89 a share. The 52-week range is $10.55 to $17.83, and over the past 52 weeks the stock is up 14%.


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