Nike (NYSE:NKE) recently announced its fiscal year 2015 results. Things look good for the footwear, apparel, and sports equipment giant. Currently sporting a market cap over $90 billion, Nike was able to deliver year-over-year revenue growth of 10% to $30.6 billion and year-over-year EPS growth of 25% to $3.70 per share. Its success in three particular areas leads me to believe the company will continue to prosper in both the near and long term.
Greater China grows sales
North American sales were responsible for $13.74 billion, or about 45% of Nike's $30.6 billion of total revenue in the year ended May 31. Sales in China made up the fourth-largest chunk of Nike's revenue behind North America, Western Europe, and emerging markets. This makes sense as the former two regions are the wealthiest and most mature, while the latter is composed of a number of countries with growing economies.
Year-over-year revenue growth in Greater China was the standout for the company, coming in at 18%. This compares favorably to North America -- up 12% -- and Western Europe -- up 15%. Perhaps more importantly, nearly all of the revenue growth in China came from footwear -- up 26% -- while apparel sales were up 6%, and equipment sales were flat.
Footwear constitutes the largest percentage of sales for Nike in every one of its geographic regions. Growing sales this rapidly for its highest-selling line of products in the world's most populous market surely bodes well for Nike's near-term prospects. Success in turning these sales into profits is reflected in the fact that earnings from China were up 22% year over year compared to 17% for the company as a whole, and behind only Western Europe -- up 49% year over year.
While the Sportswear and Running categories make up a bigger portion of total wholesale revenue, Basketball is the fastest-growing segment. Nike grew Basketball revenues 19% year over year, which has a lot to do with the prevalence of the game internationally, and especially in China. Around 300 million people play basketball in China, according to an NBA stat cited in a Forbes article, which is only slightly less than the entire population of the United States.
NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others have become massive celebrities in China, and basketball has won favor in Chinese culture in a way that no other American sport has been able to. In fact, China has been hosting NBA pre-season games for over a decade.
As the game continues to grow in China, Nike should be able to grow its basketball-related sales accordingly. I would not be surprised if China was once again the fastest-growing region, and Basketball the fastest-growing division when Nike releases results next fiscal year.
Direct-to-consumer picking up
Sales to wholesale customers made up nearly $22 billion of Nike Brand's $28.7 billion of revenue in the just-finished fiscal year. While these sales were up 6% year over year, the remaining $6.63 billion of sales came from Direct to Consumer (DTC), and they were up 25% over the same period. This growth in DTC revenues is attributable to a "16 percent growth in comparable store sales, a 59 percent increase in online sales and the addition of new stores," according to the company.
Increasing same-store sales and successfully opening new ones is important, but the increase in online sales is what is so exciting for Nike's future. Retail companies that can't "crack" online and mobile sales are at a severe disadvantage, as a greater percentage of shopping time and money migrates to the web. Furthermore, DTC is a higher-margin business, meaning a greater percentage of every dollar sold drops to the bottom line. It can then be used to further expand the business, repurchase shares, or pay shareholders a larger dividend. Growing DTC sales this rapidly bodes well for Nike's long-term future.
Immediate future looks rosy
Nike Brand reported that future orders, which account for the delivery period between June 2015 and November 2015, are up 2% overall. The number is positive due in part to a 13% spike in North American sales, but mostly because of 20% growth in Greater China.
China, the Basketball segment, and online sales will be the catalysts that propel Nike to even loftier heights. The company pays a small dividend and is worth a look for investors who want to get some diversification into China without directly investing into Chinese companies. I expect Nike to continue to execute, and I plan to hold my shares for the foreseeable future.