The word on the street was that Nike (NYSE:NKE) had made a royal blunder when it featured Colin Kaepernick as the face of its latest advertising campaign. We live in polarizing times to say the least, and some consider Kaepernick unpatriotic. Others found the idea that Kaepernick had “sacrificed everything” bordering on absurd. But what kind of impact does all the madness truly have on Nike stock?
After all, social media has an uncanny ability to snowball such controversies and it can be hard to determine how much something truly matters for stock like Nike. However, the general sentiment regarding NKE stock from a social media standpoint was fairly clear … or at least clearly mixed. People posted photos of themselves cutting the Nike swooshes out of their socks and burning their shoes. In response, many more defended Kaepernick, his politics and the ad.
From a financial perspective, speculation about what the controversy meant for the NKE stock price naturally ensued. One analyst called the campaign a “stroke of genius” and upped his price target for NKE shares to $95 — about 15% higher than its current price.
Indeed, the ability to align a brand with a political cause arguably has just as much upside as it does downside. At the very least, one could say, Nike stock likely came out even in terms of customers lost and gained, and maybe it has even encouraged its most loyal customers to go snag some new NKE gear.
In my opinion, though, the Kaepernick controversy isn’t actually a huge deal for Nike stock. And that’s not just because it will be replaced by something else in a week or two.
The Controversy Doesn’t Matter a Whole Lot for Nike Stock
In the most recent quarter, Nike’s North American revenue tallied $3.88 billion. Meanwhile, sales abroad, which includes Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China, Latin America and the Asia Pacific, were good for $5.4 billion. Along the same lines, earnings before interest and taxes were $975 billion last quarter in North America, while the aforementioned segments added up to $1.26 billion.
I’m not saying those markets (AKA the rest of the world) aren’t following American politics. But I think it’s pretty safe to assume their reactions aren’t as heated as the ones we saw from certain domestic consumers. Nike stock investors must be careful not to employ geography bias, if you will, and assume that just because something’s on our 24/7 news cycle, that it must be a huge deal globally.
Instead, we are better off focusing on (of course) NKE stock’s fundamentals. One thing that concerns me far more than this advertising campaign, for example, is the impact of the Tax Act on the company’s bottom line. In Nike’s fiscal 2018, the company’s effective tax rate was a whopping 55% compared to just 13% the year before. While the company’s revenues grew 6% in fiscal 2018, its income after taxes dropped 54% thanks to that figure, with earnings-per-common-share following suit.
Don’t let a social media firestorm that could theoretically impact sales distract from factors that are already tangibly impacting a company’s bottom line, and ultimately Nike stock. This is one of the biggest challenges in investing right now: being able to tune out the noise and zoom in on the right metrics.
I’m cautious about the NKE stock price right now because its forward price-to-earnings ratio is about double long-term earnings and because the tax rate has jumped so dramatically. Those are the factors to keep an eye one when choosing a company to add to your portfolio. An ad campaign and social media firestorm about a pro football player, on the other hand? They’re more noise than signal.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.