Nike beats on cost cuts, shares jump

Written by Reuters | San Francisco | Updated: Sep 30 2009, 16:47pm hrs
Nike Inc beat quarterly profit expectations as deep cost cuts and lower taxes more than offset crumbling revenue in key markets like the United States and China, sending its shares up 4.4 per cent.

The world's top athletic shoe and apparel maker stressed it was gaining market share and stood to benefit when the global economy improved. But executives warned that retailers and consumers remained wary going into the pivotal holiday season, which accounts for the bulk of most retailers' yearly sales.

"People are still going to be relatively cautious going through that holiday period," Nike Brand President Charlie Denson told analysts on a conference call, adding that Nike saw "sequential improvement" in retail orders through spring.

Nike's fiscal first-quarter net profit was $513.0 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with $510.5 million, or $1.03 per share, a year earlier. Analysts, on average, had expected 97 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Revenue fell 12 per cent to $4.8 billion from $5.4 billion a year earlier, when orders in advance of the Beijing Olympics and the European soccer championships boosted sales.

On a constant currency basis, revenues for the full year and second quarter are expected to fall from year-ago levels, Nike said.

But Chris Trompeter, managing director of Tradition Capital Management, said Nike deserved "kudos" for managing costs.

"All in all, given the environment, it was certainly a pleasant surprise -- particularly on the bottom line," he said.

But he added that Nike shares -- which are up 56 per cent since a year low in March -- were trading close to his estimate of fair value.

"We're not going to be going out and aggressively adding to our position at this price," Trompeter said.

COST CUTS HELPED

Nike and its rivals, Adidas and Puma, have been battling dwindling sales across the world as cash-strapped consumers reduce discretionary spending.

Revenue fell in all Nike's regions except Japan, which Denson described as a country with "very cautious" consumers. But after accounting for currency fluctuations, sales were flat in Japan and rose in emerging markets, which included Brazil.

In China, a market with double-digit growth last year, sales fell 16 per cent. But Nike said the company continued to be the No. 1-selling athletic brand in that country, led by basketball.