Wall Street on Thursday happily gave Under Armour Inc. the benefit of the doubt.
Sending shares up 7.3 percent, investors easily overlooked the drop in the activewear company’s second-quarter earnings, which still beat analysts’ consensus estimates, as they voiced approval of increasing global investments in the firm’s Brand House stores and its Connected Fitness platforms.
Kevin Plank, chairman and chief executive officer, told analysts the company planned to add 100 Brand House retail units to its store portfolio this year, building on its base of 73 at the end of 2014. It opened 18 Brand House locations in the second quarter.
“Three-quarters of those will be located in Asia, and 85 percent of those…will be doors where we will be deleveraging distributor partners that will be opening those up,” he said, adding the greatest concentration of stores will be in China.
The firm also expanded its e-commerce reach in the quarter with new sites in Thailand, Austria, Ireland, Belgium and Portugal.
Even as it expands Brand House — the non-outlet portion of its retail initiative — the firm will endeavor to make a stronger statement with its wholesale customers, including the shops-in-shop Armoury concept with Champs Stores, “which highlights not only the basketball category but a broader mix of product and innovation the athlete’s been historically unable to find from our brand in the mall,” the ceo said.
The athletic and fitness apparel firm has reaped considerable exposure from its associations with National Basketball Association MVP Stephen Curry, whose Curry One sneaker helped lift footwear revenues 40.2 percent, to $153.6 million, in the quarter, and Jordan Spieth, the current darling of the PGA, as well as other endorsements by other athletes and programs.
In the quarter ended June 30, net income fell 16.5 percent to $14.8 million, or 7 cents a diluted share, from $17.7 million, or 8 cents, in the year-ago period. Even with the decline, the EPS mark beat analysts’ expectations by 2 cents.
Net revenues rose 28.5 percent to $783.6 million from $609.7 million, making a 26.3 percent year-on-year increase in inventories, to $836.6 million, more palatable.
In addition to footwear’s 40.2 percent increase, apparel sales remained strong, growing 22.7 percent to $515.3 million.
Consisting of the MapMyFitness, Endomondo and My FitnessPal properties acquired by the firm, the Connected Fitness platform more than doubled in size, to $13.6 million from $5.5 million. However, investments in the effort more than tripled the division’s operating loss, to $16.1 million from a loss of $4.8 million a year ago. Endomondo and MyFitnessPal were acquired in February.
On the conference call, Plank likened the establishment of an online fitness community to his decision to develop “a piece of equipment to be worn underneath of athletes’ uniforms or equipment” to bolster their athletic performance.
“How come no one has done this before?” he wondered on both occasions.
He said Connected Fitness was adding more than 100,000 unique registered users to the platform “every single day” and now has more than 140 million athletes participating. More than 1 billion workouts have been logged into its apps, Plank said.
The cost of investing in Connected Fitness, retail and operational improvements, and other costs, drove selling, general and administrative expenses up 30.9 percent in the quarter, to $347.1 million. Wall Street seemed undeterred by the increase and more focused on revised full-year guidance. Revenues in 2015 are now expected to land at $3.84 billion, above both the $3.78 billion previously forecast and the $3.83 billion consensus of analysts.
The company narrowed its anticipated operating profit range to $405 million to $408 million from the previous levels of $400 million to $408 million.
After hitting an all-time high of $97.69 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange following the release of earnings, shares finished the day at $95.93, up $6.56, or 7.3 percent.
While analysts are virtually unanimous in their belief that Under Armour has plenty of room for top- and bottom-line growth ahead of it, with recent moves like the decision to organize its business by sport rather than category, concerns about its valuation are widespread. While raising his price target to $90 from $85, Jefferies analyst Randal Konik maintained his “hold” rating on the stock.
“Our conviction in UA’s growing brand dominance remains strong and the company continues to execute well across growth drivers,” he wrote in a note to clients. “We expect the new organizational structure, focused on sport rather than product category, to further propel UA’s growth.
“However, we believe UA’s premium valuation already contemplates these numerous positive attributes and high expectations are becoming increasingly difficult to surpass.”
UA’s conversion to a sport-based structure will be overseen by Terdema Ussery 2nd, who has resigned as ceo of basketball’s Dallas Mavericks to become president of global sports categories at Under Armour. Ussery was involved in similar work for Nike Inc. during a four-year stint there that began in 1993.