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Nike Stock and the 30% Rally That's Expected

Nike stock price

With Nike Inc (NYSE: NKE) shares having been trading remarkably softer, compared to the broader equity market, in recent weeks, they needed to deliver a strong earnings report last night. At first glance, it looked like they managed to do just that. 

The athletic apparel giant beat analyst expectations for both revenue and earnings per share, the latter coming in a full 30% higher than the consensus. Topping expectations for the headline numbers is almost always a prerequisite for any stock that wants to rally following an earnings report, but the devil can often be in the details. 

Fundamental Performance for Nike Stock 

Nike reported after the bell rang to end Thursday's session, and it didn't take long for their shares to pop in after-hours trading as Wall Street dug deeper. By and large, things looked positive. The company's gross margins were up, inventories were down, and shares had no problem jumping more than 5%. Considering the fact that Nike has been in a downtrend since their December report, this was exactly the kind of response investors would have been hoping for. 

It must have been a frustrating stock to hold in recent months, as the broader market has gone on to hit multiple record highs, while Nike has found itself down by as much as 20% from its December high. However, in Friday's pre-market trading, the gains from Thursday evening had all been given up, and then some. At the time of writing, Nike stock was down 6% and at a fresh low for the year. 

It appears that Wall Street has been especially tough on the stock with regards to the headwinds that have plagued it in recent months, namely around signs of weak consumer spending in China, always a key market, and an ongoing lack of innovation

Bullish Stances Reiterated for Nike Stock 

Analysts from Bernstein, for example, maintained their Outperform rating on Nike shares in the aftermath of Thursday's report but trimmed their price target for the stock considerably. Having previously had it at a bullish $134, they're now looking for Nike to get to $120. It's still pointing to a targeted upside of nearly 30%, which, to be fair, is attractive for those of us on the sidelines. For existing investors, and especially those whose positions are in the red, a trimmed price target won't exactly be inspiring confidence. 

The Bernstein team were critical of the company's innovation efforts, but see this as a challenge that will be addressed in the coming months. They're still positive on the company's longer-term potential and anticipate a return to what they called a "robust innovation cycle" that will drive fresh growth and a positive revaluation of the stock price. 

Considering Getting Involved with Nike Stock 

Their cautious yet distinctly bullish stance is an interesting one, and Bernstein was far from alone in that camp. The teams over at Goldman Sachs and UBS Group both reiterated their Buy ratings on Nike shares this morning, with refreshed price targets at $120 and $125, respectively. The fact that Nike shares are to open lower, and likely trend lower into the weekend, you have to be thinking there's a buying opportunity opening up here. 

Make no mistake, the company still beat expectations, and their shares remain attractive from a valuation perspective alone. Consider Nike's price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of 30 against the likes of their closest athleisure competitorLululemon Athletica Inc (NASDAQ: LULU), for example. Lululemon commanded a PE ratio of 60 ahead of their earnings last night, and their stock is set to open down even more than Nike's.

Investors should look for shares to not break below $90, as this would indicate there is some serious momentum with the bears, and would likely force many bulls to reconsider their position. However, if the stock can show signs of consolidation by this evening, or in the early part of next week, then things could get interesting quite quickly. 

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