Nike Cost of Capital Case

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On July 5, 2001, Kimi Ford, a portfolio manager at NorthPoint Group, a mutual-fund management firm, pored over analysts' write-ups of Nike, Inc., the athletic-shoe manufacturer. Nike's share price had declined significantly from the beginning of the year. Ford was considering buying some shares for the fund she managed, the NorthPoint Large-Cap Fund, which invested mostly in Fortune 500 companies, with an emphasis on value investing. Its top holdings included ExxonMobil, General Motors, McDonald's, 3M, and other large-cap, generally old-economy stocks. While the stock market had declined over the last 18 months, the NorthPoint Large-Cap Fund had performed extremely well. In 2000, the fund earned a return of

20.7%, even as the S&P 500 fell 10.1%. At the end of June 2001, the fund's year-to-date returns stood at 6.4% versus −7.3% for the S&P 500.

Only a week earlier, on June 28, 2001, Nike had held an analysts' meeting to disclose its fiscal-year 2001 results.1 The meeting, however, had another purpose: Nike management wanted to communicate a strategy for revitalizing the company. Since 1997, its revenues had plateaued at around $9 billion, while net income had fallen from almost $800 million to $580 million (see Exhibit 1). Nike's market share in U.S. athletic shoes had fallen from 48%, in 1997, to 42% in 2000.2 In addition, recent supply-chain issues and the adverse effect of a strong dollar had negatively affected revenue.

At the meeting, management revealed plans to address both top-line growth and operating performance. To boost revenue, the company would develop more athletic-shoe products in the midpriced segment3—a segment that Nike had overlooked...

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... cost of equity using the capital-asset-pricing model (CAPM). Other methods, such as the dividend-discount model (DDM) and the earnings-capitalization ratio, can be used to estimate the cost of equity. In my opinion, however, the CAPM is the superior method.

My estimate of Nike's cost of equity is 10.5%. I used the current yield on 20-year Treasury bonds as my risk-free rate, and the compound average premium of the market over Treasury bonds (5.9%) as my risk premium. For beta, I took the average of Nike's betas from 1996 to the present.

Putting It All Together

Inputting all my assumptions into the WACC formula, my estimate of Nike's cost of capital is 8.4%.

WACC = Kd(1 − t) × D/(D + E) + Ke × E/(D + E)

= 2.7% × 27.0% + 10.5% × 73.0%

= 8.4%

1 Debt balances as of May 31, 2000 and 2001, were $1,444.6 million and $1,296.6 million, respectively.
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