Editors Note:

Basketball is one of the premier sports that directly relates to shoe sales. Thirty percent of the buyers of basketball shoes tend to actually use their shoes for playing that sport.


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FL - Foot Locker - Company Description

Foot Locker, Inc. operates as an athletic shoes and apparel retailer. The company operates in two segments, Athletic Stores and Direct-to-Customers. The Athletic Stores segment retails athletic footwear, apparel, accessories, and equipment under various formats, including Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Champs Sports, Footaction, and SIX:02, as well as Runners Point, and Sidestep. As of January 30, 2016, it operated 3,383 primarily mall-based stores in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Unfortunately, mall traffic is slowing as we have seen repeatedly in retailer earnings comments. Sports Authority just closed all 450 of its stores because of declining sales. The NPD Group Consumer Tracking Service said the "performance" shoe business has never been worse but the total sneaker business remains solid. That means all the high dollar shoes with a sports star name attached to them are not selling, with the exception of Stephen Curry.

Only about 24% of people who buy a specific type of shoe actually wear it for that purpose. That means 75% of the shoes are just bought to wear as a daily living shoe rather than the specific sport. Running shoes are the strongest with 50% of buyers actually running. Basketball logs in at about 33% and outdoor shoes are low at 10%. Asics has been a top selling brand for sports with 66% saying they use them for that particular sport. Skechers was the lowest brand at 10%.

The luxury brands with names like Michael Jordan, Le Bron James, etc are not selling near as well as they did in the past. Foot Locker had a 50% off sales on the high dollar shoes in April in order to reduce inventory.

With shoe makers paying more and more money for super star endorsements they have to charge more for their shoes. In the current economy that is not working out well. A $200 pair of shoes is not a hot item when money is being spent on smartphones and video games instead.

Foot Locker reported earnings back on May 20th and shares dropped $5 on the news. It was not pretty. Foot Locker has been declining since the highs back in October. After the post earnings drop they rebounded about $2 to $56 but could not gain any momentum. Now that basketball is over and the summer doldrums are approaching shares have declined back to $54 and could easily break to a new 52-week low.

Earnings are August 19th.

Given the lack of excitement in shoes and the slowdown in retail, I am recommending we place a bet that Foot Locker does break down before earnings. There is support at $52 but the decline since October is accelerating.

Buy August $52.50 put, currently $2.25, stop loss $56.25.