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Goldman downgrades Nike due to ‘excess inventory’ at retailers

  • Goldman Sachs lowers its rating for Nike to neutral from buy, citing an intense promotional environment for the company's products.
  • "Near-term dynamics are challenging … with an inventory overhang in the US hampering Nike's ability to 'reset' the market," writes analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann.
A KAWS x Air Jordan IV buyer looks at the shoe at a store on March 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.
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A KAWS x Air Jordan IV buyer looks at the shoe at a store on March 31, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

The lackluster year for Nike shareholders isn't going to turnaround anytime soon, according to Goldman Sachs.

The firm lowered its rating for Nike shares to neutral from buy, citing an intense promotional environment for the company's products.

The call sent the stock down 1.2 percent at Thursday's market open.

"The drivers of domestic pressure will take some time to work through, exacerbated by persistent excess inventory sitting at Nike's brick and mortar retail partners and the high visibility this markdown product gets as it is funneled online via amazon.com and other platforms," analyst Lindsay Drucker Mann wrote in a note to clients Thursday.

"Near-term dynamics are challenging … with an inventory overhang in the US hampering Nike's ability to 'reset' the market."

Nike shares have underperformed the market year to date with its shares up 3 percent through Wednesday, compared with the S&P 500's 14 percent return.

The analyst reaffirmed her $54 price target for Nike, representing 3 percent upside from Wednesday's close.

Drucker Mann noted that Nike's North American sales growth has deteriorated in the past year from 6 percent in fiscal first-quarter 2017 to a 3 percent decline in the most recent fiscal first-quarter 2018.

She said sales trends in Asia are also getting worse.

"International has been a critical growth engine, driving about half of Nike's revenue growth over the last decade, and with substantial opportunity ahead," she wrote. "Nike's business has cooled in key regions, with signs of deceleration in China giving us particular pause."

Nike did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

— CNBC's Michael Bloom contributed to this story.