Under Armour Inc (US)

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Under Armour has emerged as one of the main challengers to sportswear's global elite of Nike, Adidas and Puma, and is currently the fast-growing in the sector. Revenues have more than doubled in three years to $4.8bn in 2016. It overtook Adidas in 2014 to become the #2 sportswear brand in the US behind Nike. That lead was surrendered again in 2016 but competion with Adidas for the #2 spot remains neck-and-neck. The brand has partnership arrangements to supply kit to several major US collegiate conferences and sports associations, most notably Major League Baseball. It still generates more than 80% of revenues at home, though international sales are growing rapidly. Globally, Under Armour is now the #3 in the sector, ahead of Puma. Launched in 1996 by former athlete Kevin Plank, the company's original focus, as its name suggests, was to create weatherproof, sweatproof sports clothing to keep athletes dry and comfortable. It also now produces footwear, as well as wearables like the HealthBox fitness band, but sports apparel still generates two-thirds of revenues. The company has signed up a small but significant team of high-powered endorsement partners including actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, swimming champion Michael Phelps, ballerina Misty Copeland and supermodel Gisele Bundchen. Plank remains CEO and has a majority of voting shares. Adbrands does not currently offer a business profile for this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.

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Capsule checked 6th April 2017

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Aug 2017: In an otherwise quiet couple of weeks for corporate news, several major US companies have instead been wrestling with issues of diversity, race and gender. Business leaders yesterday moved to disband two White House advisory councils as a result of President Trump's inconsistent comments regarding a white supremacist rally in South Carolina where one left-wing protester was murdered and 19 others injured. Trump initially demurred on condemning the supremacists, saying instead that both sides were to blame for the violence. That prompted the immediate resignation of Merck's Kenneth Frazier, one of America's most senior African-American CEOs. "America's leaders must honour our fundamental values," he said, "by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal." Trump's typically ill-mannered response was to attack Frazier in two tweets about pharmaceutical pricing. That braggart reaction prompted the departure of two further members, Under Armor's Kevin Plank and Intel's Brian Krzanich. "I resigned because I want to make progress," said Krzanich, "while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them."

Trump attempted to calm the storm by voicing an explicit condemnation of the far-right (no doubt at the insistence of his more moderate advisers) only to change his position again the following day, and once again blame both sides for the violence. At the same time, he ramped up his attack on the departing CEOs who, he said, were "not taking their jobs seriously" and had resigned "out of embarrassment because they make their products outside" the US. That prompted the resignation of two further CEOs, Campbell Soup Company's Denise Morrison and 3M's Inge Thulin. The remaining members of both councils then took the decision to disband. Typically, Trump tried to save face by claiming the decision to disband was made by him. Shortly before the councils were disbanded, the New York Times asked why so few CEOs speak out against Trump, concluding that "privately, many chief executives say they are fuming, outraged by the president. But many are too scared to say anything publicly that could make them or their company a target of Mr Trump’s wrath."

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Aug 2017: Under Armour is still in the doghouse, reporting another disappointing quarter, another loss, albeit narrower than the year-ago period, and a cut in full-year revenue forecasts. Despite low double-digit growth in sports apparel, analysts were worried by a decline in footwear, perceived as key to the company's switch to a broader-based sportswear manufacturer. Under Armour shares slumped to their lowest level in over eight years.

Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Jun 2017: Under Armour CEO and controlling shareholder Kevin Plank took further steps to strengthen his management team with the appointment of Patrik Frisk as president & COO. Frisk was most recently CEO of shoemaker Aldo Group, and before that spent several years at VF Corp, latterly as president of Outdoors Americas, overseeing The North Face, Timberland and other brands. Among a number of other executive changes at UA, merchandising chief Kevin Eskridge was promoted to a newly created role of chief product officer, with responsibility for product, merchandising, design and innovation.

Adbrands Weekly Update 4th May 2017: Sportswear company Under Armor was able to assuage the worst of analysts' fears despite reporting its first ever loss for 1Q. The deficit of $2m was much lower than had been feared, while revenues were up 7% overall, including a spectacular 52% jump from international sales. That prompted a 10% pop in the company's share price, which had plunged at the start of the year. “We know we've got hard work ahead of us," said CEO Kevin Plank "and while we are certainly used to that, we respect the challenge and are pursuing it full force... Our team is hungry and humble with our heads down, engaging, empowering, editing and executing."

Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Hot on the heels of disappointing 4Q results, and the subsequent crash in its market value, Under Armour also came under fire from some of its athlete partners for comments made by CEO Kevin Plank that appeared to endorse President Trump, on whose America Manufacturing Council he sits. Plank told CNBC that a "pro-business president" was "a real asset to this country". Two of UA's top athletes, basketball star Stephan Curry and ballerina Misty Copeland, were quick to distance themselves. Curry told San Francisco's Mercury News "I agree with the description... if you remove the 'et' from asset" while Copeland told her Instagram followers, "I strongly disagree with Kevin Plank's recent comments" and urged him to take "public action to clearly communicate and reflect our common values". A few days later, UA clarified its stance in a formal statement. "We engage in policy, not politics.... Under Armour and Kevin Plank are for job creation and American manufacturing capability. We believe building should be focused on much needed education, transportation, technology and urban infrastructure investment.  We are against a travel ban and believe that immigration is a source of strength, diversity and innovation for global companies based in America like Under Armour." A fullpage ad in the Baltimore Sun, UA's hometown newspaper, reiterated those sentiments in the form of an open letter from Plank.

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