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Nike’s results offer a clue about the strong dollar and the upcoming earnings season

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How has the strong dollar impacted big multinational companies this quarter? Nike ‘s results after the bell on Thursday may offer a good preview of what’s to come as earnings season kicks into a high gear in mid-October. The sneaker and apparel giant saw a currency headwind of about 6 percentage points in its fiscal first quarter ended Aug. 31. Compare that with its fourth-quarter report from three months ago, when Nike saw a 4 percentage point impact. And going back six months , the headwind was 3 percentage points. So the headwind has basically doubled in six months. But take a closer look at the report and you’ll see the real currency impact. Nike’s European division reported revenue that was up just 1%. Take out the currency impact though, and sales in that region jumped 17%. In Asia (outside of China) and Latin America, revenue rose 5%. Strip out the currency impact, and revenue grew a much stronger 16%. It was a bit of a surprise to see Nike’s small earnings and revenue beat . But not all is rosy despite those better-than-expected numbers. The stock is down nearly 10% in extended trading as inventories swelled 44% ahead of the holidays and weakness continues in China, its third biggest market. Including currency, China sales fell 16% year over year. That was about in line with estimates. Offsetting that drop were better-than-expected sales in North America. However, domestic sales may have been helped by markdowns Nike made to help clear out inventory . The price cuts might have helped sales, but the discounts took a bite out of profitability. Nike’s overall gross margin came in at 44.3% — or 1 percentage point below estimates and a couple percentage points below the year-ago level. Nike points out the reason for the weak margins specifically: “The overall decrease in margins was primarily driven by North America, which took measures to liquidate excess inventory through NIKE Direct markdowns and wholesale marketplace actions.”

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