Nike Shares Rip Toward Record High, as Investors See Digital Bets Paying Off

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  • Investors are rallying behind Nike's latest quarterly results and an upbeat outlook that not many retail companies have been able to offer during the Covid health crisis.
  • The sneaker maker is proving that its big bets on digital are clearly paying off.
  • Nike's stock hit an all-time, intraday high Monday, as the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite fell.

Nike shares jumped more than 5% to a fresh intraday high Monday, despite a broader sell-off, as investors rallied behind the sneaker maker's latest quarterly results and an upbeat outlook that not many retail companies have been able to offer during the Covid health crisis.

The retailer's big bets on its digital business are clearly paying off, with online sales of its namesake brand soaring more than 80% during the latest period. It makes Nike especially well-positioned this holiday season, as a record number of consumers are buying gifts on the web. Nike has also trimmed its inventories, making it less reliant on discounting. Management expects e-commerce will represent about half of Nike's sales in the near future.

"We foresee the shift toward digital being a multi-year sales and earnings driver, supporting the stock's premium valuation multiple," said Joseph Feldman, an analyst at Telsey Advisory Group, in a client note.

TAG raised its price target for Nike to $175 from $155.

Nike's plans to further cull its wholesale partners and sell more directly to customers are also viewed as a positive, as outlets like department stores increasingly struggle to lure shoppers inside. And some of Nike's peers, like Under Armour and Adidas, are seen as more dependent on wholesalers.

Nike "turned on its Friday night lights," as BMO Capital Markets Simeon Siegel put it, referring to the retailer's late Friday-afternoon earnings report, ahead of the holiday week.

"Nike's revenue results were nicely better than peers," Siegel said in a note to clients, adding that he expects Nike to "capitalize on share-taking opportunities amid pandemic dislocations."

Siegel raised his price target on shares to $160 from $134.

Nike shares closed Friday at $137.28, having risen more than 35% this year, bringing its market cap to $315.5 billion. The stock hit an all-time, intraday high Monday morning of $147.95.

For fiscal 2021, Nike is now calling for revenue to rise at a low-teens percentage year over year, compared with a prior outlook of up high-single to low-double digits. Analysts had been calling for growth of 12.3%, according to Refinitiv.

Nike's profit outlook is also improving, as it plans for less markdowns on its apparel and footwear in the coming quarters, and selling less inventory through wholesale channels. Previously, the company was expecting its margins to be about flat for the year.

"We think we're better-positioned at this point to manage through the uncertainty probably than we were prior to the pandemic," Chief Financial Officer Matt Friend told analysts on Friday. "We've learned so much over the last nine months."

For the three-month period ended Nov. 30, Nike reported net income of 78 cents per share, on revenue of $11.24 billion, beating estimates for 68 cents and $10.56 billion. Digital sales soar by triple digits in North America. And it reported double-digit revenue growth in China.

—CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this reporting.

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