Nike touts growing women's market, stays bullish on China

Nike touts growing women's market, stays bullish on China

Nike executives said exposure from the Women's World Cup is boosting sales of women's gear and apparel.
Nike executives said exposure from the Women's World Cup is boosting sales of women's gear and apparel.

NEW YORK: Nike reported increased quarterly sales, but lower profits Thursday as executives pointed to higher women's athletics sales due in part to the Women's World Cup.

Earnings were dented somewhat by higher company spending, including on new technologies, such as a "Nike Fit" shoe sizing program that uses a smartphone to scan a consumer's foot.

Profits in the fourth quarter fell 13 percent to $989 million. A higher tax rate compared with the year-ago period also dragged on the bottom line.

Revenues grew four percent to $10.2 billion.

Chief Executive Mark Parker called fiscal 2019 a "pivotal year" following investments in direct selling to consumers.

During a conference call, Parker said sales in women's products grew by double digits, accelerating in the second half of the year ahead of the Women's World Cup, which began three weeks ago and will culminate next month.

Parker attributed higher sales of women's footwear and high-performance bras to the international football event on the eve of a much-anticipated match between the United States and France.

"I know I can't wait to watch these two Nike teams in what should be one of the top matches of the tournament!" Parker said.

The company is planning to launch specialized women's wear in Asia based on research of body types and sizes, he said.

Parker characterized China as a critical and successful market for the company, saying the company has encountered no negative fallout from the ongoing US-China trade dispute.

China sales surged 22 percent during the quarter to $1.7 billion.

"We added more than $1 billion of incremental growth in (China) over this past year," Parker said on the call. "We are and remain a brand of China and for China."

Nike faced scrutiny this week after it withdrew a line of sneakers made by Japanese label Undercover that had posted a photo on social media of Hong Kong protesters earlier this month.

Executives didn't comment on the issue during a conference call and weren't asked directly about the incident by Wall Street analysts.

Nike shares were essentially flat at $83.63 in after-hours trading.


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