Nike Sprints to First Place as Dow's Top-Performing Stock

Shares of Nike Inc. (NYSE: NKE) vaulted into the top-performer’s slot among the Dow Jones industrial average stocks last week. The athletic gear maker’s stock added nearly 4% to its share price and set a new all-time high in the process. For the year to date, Nike stock is up 33.5%.

The second-best performer in the index so far this year is Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ: MSFT), which is up 32.5%. That is followed by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), up 32.3%, Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), up 29.7%, and Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE: MRK), up 24.4%. Of the 30 Dow stocks, 16 have managed to post a gain to date in 2018.

The blue-chip index added 38.28 points last week to close at 26,154.67, up about 0.9% compared to the previous Friday’s close. For the third quarter to date, the Dow is up 8.2%, better than the S&P 500 (up 7.1%) and the Nasdaq Composite (up 6.8%). For the year to date, the index is up 5.4%, trailing both the S&P 500 (up 7.8%) and the Nasdaq Composite (up 14.3%).

Nike’s run last week began with a lift of about 2.4% on Monday. The driving force was the company’s new ad campaign featuring NFL player Colin Kaepernick. After some initial backlash, the risky campaign paid off big for the company. Here’s just a sample of what analysts had to say:

Wedbush called Nike an iconic American brand and raised its price target from $85 to $80. Analyst Christopher Svezia said, “Nike benefited bigly from France winning the World Cup, enhancing its EMEA growth.”

Canaccord Genuity raised its rating on the stock from Hold to Buy and boosted its price target from $78 to $95 a share. Analyst Camilo Lyon said that Nike has “regained its footing and is solidly marching back to top form.”

Research firm Edison Trends noted that between the Sunday before Labor Day and last Tuesday, Nike’s online sales rose 31% and social media engagement numbers were off the charts. Nike’s social media mentions rose more than 1,600% over the first two days of last week, and Kaepernick mentions rose more than 360,000%, according to researchers at 4C Insights.

One last item. Nike struck a deal with Walmart-owned to sell Nike products beginning next month. The agreement does not include but fits in well with the parent company’s efforts to position as an e-commerce site aiming at a younger, more affluent market.

Nike shares closed Friday at $83.49, in a 52-week range of $50.35 to $83.90, a new all-time high posted Thursday. The consensus price target is $82.53, and Nike’s forward price-to-earnings ratio is 26.67.