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“We are at the beginning of a sneaker superbike”

Nike ( NKE ) stock has been hammered over the past year, but one analyst believes the sneaker giant’s inventory woes may be returning.

“We’re at the beginning of a sneaker superbike,” said Omar Saad, CEO of Evercore ISI on Yahoo Finance Live (video above). “People are wearing sneakers more. They’re consistently wearing sneakers more. Their feet are certainly used to the comfort that sneakers and other comfortable footwear provide during COVID and are hesitant to go back to uncomfortable dress shoes on a daily basis just for special occasions.”

And according to Saad, Nike is “the best-positioned company to take advantage of this massive sneaker superbike.”[ads1];

Over the past two decades, Nike stock has consistently outperformed the S&P 500 and has been something of a bellwether for retail. However, shares of the clothing giant have fallen 45% so far this year, trailing the S&P’s 21% decline.

While an increase in demand could give Nike a much-needed boost, it remains to be seen whether it can offset the supply pressure from the overstocked retail sector.

“We think it’s going to be a very, very tough holiday [season]and part of this is really about the buying behavior in the wholesale channel going forward in 2023,” Adrienne Yih, CEO of Barclays, told Yahoo Finance. “Nike still has about 55% in the wholesale channel even though they are making great strides in moving to [direct-to-consumer]. So that’s kind of the bottom line in the short to medium term.”

“We are at the beginning of a sneaker superbike”

Stylist Jada Adkins is seen wearing black and white Nike SB Dunks on April 21, 2021 in New York City. (Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images)

Nike’s performance this holiday season may rest in the hands of its biggest household names. The latest shoe from LeBron James’ signature collection, the LeBron XX, is expected to release just before the start of the NBA season. And in December, a cyclical blitz of Jordan Brand retros will drop, prompting fans to brave cold weather and camp outside stores in years past.

“Uncertain Time Period” in China

Beyond the inventory count, sneaker brands have navigated a shaky reopening in China, a key region contributing to sales growth.

Nike sales in Greater China missed estimates in the latest quarter as covid-19 shutdowns continued to weigh on the business.

“In Q4, revenue fell 20% on a currency-neutral basis and EBIT fell 55% on a reported basis,” Nike CFO Matt Friend said in Q4 earnings in June. “This follows the region’s most widespread COVID disruption since 2020, affecting over 100 cities and over 60% of our business.”

Workers install a Nike logo lamp outside Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China August 28, 2019. Picture taken August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Workers install a Nike logo lamp outside Wukesong Arena in Beijing, China August 28, 2019. Picture taken August 28, 2019. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

The revenue decline could be “a short- to medium-term temporary COVID problem,” Yih said, but it could also be early evidence of a consumer preference for domestic brands in China.

Nike and other brands targeting expansion in China, such as Adidas ( ADDYY ), Under Armor ( UA ) and Lululemon ( LULU ), have faced greater competition from domestic brands such as Li-Ning and Anta, which have experienced revenue growth and increasing market share.

“If you look at their first half year numbers, Li-Ning was up 22%,” Yih said. “Anta took a 14% share of the market. You compare that to Adidas, down 35%, and then, for the first half that we know of, from Nike, down 12%. And so we think this is a very kind of uncertain period of time.”

Brad Smith is an anchor on Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @thebradsmith.

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