By  on January 29, 2010

Shares of performance apparel manufacturer Under Armour Inc. fell 6 percent Thursday despite a double-digit increase in fourth-quarter profit and a boost in guidance after the firm warned expenses will increase in 2010 as it invests in its direct-to-consumer business.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, income rose 82.7 percent to $15.2 million, or 30 cents a diluted share, 5 cents above the consensus estimate. This compares with profits of $8.3 million, or 17 cents, in the year-ago quarter.

Revenues increased 24 percent to $222.2 million from $179.3 million, with apparel up 26 percent to $192.1 million and accessories up 24.2 percent to $11.5 million. Footwear revenues fell 5.1 percent to $8.7 million, while licensing revenues gained 17.9 percent to $9.9 million. Gross margin rose to 51.4 percent of sales from 50.7 percent.

For the year, income rose 22.4 percent to $46.8 million, or 92 cents a diluted share, from $38.2 million, or 76 cents, a year ago. Revenues gained 18.1 percent to $856.4 million from $725.2 million.

David McCreight, president of the Baltimore-based firm, said on a conference call with analysts the lion’s share of growth this year will come from existing wholesale partners, although the firm will also expand its direct-to-consumer business through the opening of 15 factory outlet stores, bringing the total to 50.

“For 2010, driving apparel growth and expanding our distribution to new customers will continue to have a material benefit on our current and mid-term growth targets,” he said.

Among the firm’s goals, he noted, is the expansion of its women’s business to rival that of men’s.

Despite the investment necessary for such initiatives, Under Armour modestly raised its earnings guidance, projecting gains in both earnings per share and revenues in a range of 10 percent to 12 percent. Previously, it had projected growth in the high-single to low-double digits.

Shares ended the day at $26.25, down $1.66, in New York Stock Exchange trading.

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