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Merrill Sees Lower Sales for Nike

Merrill Lynch says Foot Locker estimated that calendar year 2003 purchases of Nike (NKE) products could be cut by $300 million to $400 million.

Analyst Virginia Genereux says this October 10-Q disclosure from Foot Locker compares with a July 10-Q that stated purchases may be down by $150 million to $250 million. Genereux notes these are significant amounts: 3%-4% of Nike's revenues, and 12%-16% of Foot Locker's merchandise spending.

Genereux says the disclosure comes as word percolates that relations between the two companies is improving. She poses the questions: Is Foot Locker posturing? Is Nike taking a harder line?. She trimmed her $2.79 fiscal 2003 (May) earnings per share estimate to $2.76, and cut her $3.13 fiscal 2004 estimate to $3.11. Genereux is keeping her buy rating on Nike, adding that the footwear apparel company's strengthening European currencies will provide revenue growth, and earnings per share support. She has a $51 target.

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