Ralph Lauren Corp (RL), NIKE, Inc. (NKE): Just did it!

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NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE), creator of the “Just do it” brand, owner of “Swoosh” logo and sponsor of many high profile sportsmen and teams, just checked all the right boxes to be an investment-worthy stock. NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) shares shot up by 8% as it surpassed Wall Street expectations by posting revenue growth of 9% for the third quarter.

NIKE Inc. (NKE)

Oregon-based Nike is a Fortune 500 company engaged in design, development, marketing and selling of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories. It’s the market leader in the Apparel, Footwear and Accessories industry, with other major competitors being Ralph Lauren Corp (NYSE:RL) and Adidas (NASDAQOTH:ADDYY).

The financials

Revenue grew by 9% (10%, on a currency-neutral basis) at $6.2 billion. It was marked by well-balanced growth across all key categories, brands and geographies. With the cost of sales growing at the same scale, the company reported gross profits of $2.7 billion (up 10%).

Total selling and administration expenses grew at 9%, in line with revenue growth. Higher cost DTC business and continued investments towards innovations triggered operating overhead, which grew at 11% for the quarter.

Net income from continuing operations grew at 16% to $662 billion. A lower effective tax rate of 22.8% (last year 27.7%) led net income to outgrow revenue growth by more than 6 percentage points. This decline in tax rate was majorly due to lower effective tax rates on foreign operations and a one-time reinstatement of the R&D tax credit.

Diluted earnings per share increased by 20% to $0.73 due to high net income coupled with the effect of the four-year share repurchase program, approved by the Board in Sep. 2012.

Coming to margins, the gross margin for the quarter expanded by 30 basis points, sparked off by increasing prices and lessening raw material costs, partially offset by labor cost inflation and higher discounts. The current ratio for NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) stood at 3, much above the industry average.

Beyond numbers

Nike follows a three-pillar growth strategy: innovative products, strong consumer connections and premium distribution, and this strategy has performed again. The Nike growth story is not new on the table, and this quarter has been the 13th with double digit growth in revenue.

Nike saw a growth of 9% in footwear and 8% in apparel. The global futures grew at 7%. This growth was inspired by increasing sports business and innovative technologies offered by Nike, namely NIKE Free, Lunar, Nike Flyknit, Air Max, Dri-FIT, etc.

The vision and plans of NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) seem to be very clear, as it strives to invest resources in growth businesses only. It divested its Umbro and Cole Haan businesses to keep resources and focus invested only in value drivers like Nike, Jordan and Converse.

Besides innovative products, digital technology, e-commerce and targeting emerging markets, Nike is also eyeing upcoming major sporting events for further growth.

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