by Ed Elfenbein | August 21, 2012 10:03 am
As far as its business goes, I like Nike (NYSE:NKD)) a lot. In my mind, it’s a $70 stock. I wouldn’t mind buying it if it were at $60. Fifty dollars would be even better.
The problem is the stock’s at $95.
The normally solid company is also starting to show some cracks, and they may soon get much bigger. The last earnings report was a complete disaster. Revenue plunged 12% and Nike missed earnings by 20 cents per share.
Nike’s profit margins are getting squeezed, so their response is to raise prices even more. I think that’s a big mistake.
We’re going learn a lot more about this approach soon when Nike unveils its newest LeBron shoe which will retail for over $300.
Just to make this clear, that’s three hundred dollars of legal U.S. currency for a basketball shoe. Actually, the sneakerati thinks it will be $315.
I think this is emblematic of some of the larger forces at work in the broader economy. Companies have pushed their margins as far as they can go. Some feel the need to raise prices even more but their customer base is tapped out. It’s like a rubber band that’s been stretched to its breaking point. Something has to give.
It’s hard to imagine what you can do to a shoe to justify $315 dollars. By the way, did I mention the built-in electronics?
The coming $315 LeBron X Nike Plus, due in the fall, is expected to come embedded with motion sensors that can measure how high players jump. The LeBron 9 PS Elite basketball shoes, which currently retail for $250, feature Nike’s signature swoosh in metallic gold.
Nike, based in Beaverton, Ore., says it is passing along price increases because many key materials, such as cotton, have risen in price over the past 18 months. Prices did moderate somewhat in the past quarter.
Nike is also faces rising labor costs in China, where it manufactures a third of its products.
Are electronics really needed for this? How about the old school approach—try to touch this rim? If you can, then that’s pretty good. If you can’t, then keep working at it. No electronics needed.
I think Nike is making a big mistake here. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the LeBron fall way short of expectations. You can tell when an industry is tired—there’s no real innovation, just larger tail fins. That’s what’s going on now.
I don’t see how Nike can come close to being worth $95. Avoid this stock.
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