I love Nike.
I'm not unique in my love for the company. I'm like the greater majority of Americans (increasingly humans) who look to the company for athletic footwear and attire. While I'm not in the growing group that has swooshified their entire wardrobe, I recognize as much as the next Fool that they own a dominant position in the world of sportin' shoes and apparel.
I also love Nike's marketing program.
The Company has designed promotions to establish its name as a stronger brand than the word America. Nike's advertisements have preached inclusiveness, merit, and spirit in a nation that doesn't always prize those.
For instance, the Tiger Woods promotions have effectively waved a scolding index finger at country-club exclusivity in America. And these ads don't simply say, "Shame on you." They champion the idea that false authority, exclusivity and arrogance will get walloped by the qualities listed above -- the same qualities that are the Nike shoe, and shirt, and cap, and the swooooooooooooooosh.
I also love their income statement.
Take a look at the positive business momentum over the past three years.
1996 1995 1994
Sales $6.5 bil. $4.8 bil. $3.8 bil.
Earnings $550 mil. $400 mil. $299 mil.
Net Margins 8.5% 8.3% 7.9%
Here's another company whose sales are growing dramatically, but whose profitability is expanding at an even greater rate. Over the past two years, it has boosted net margins by over 7 1/2%. At that growth rate, in twelve years, Nike will be driving 20 cents in profit per dollar of sales. In the clothing and shoe businesses, the likelihood of extending margins that high are nil. But Nike's margin expansion over the past twenty-four months has been outstanding.
Not surprisingly, the stock has also been a spinning slam-dunk over...