Under Armour’s ‘Tough Decisions’ Yield Better-Than-Expected Q4 Sales

Under Armour shares have been enjoying a healthy nudge in early-morning trading on the heels of a better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings release.

At market open, the stock had soared more than 16 percent to $16.57.

The Baltimore-based brand — which has suffered some product misses and lagging U.S. momentum for the past year — today reported Q4 sales growth of 4.6 percent to $1.4 billion, besting forecasts for sales of $1.3 billion.

Still, the firm posted a net loss of $88 million, or 20 cents per diluted share, compared with net income of $103 million, or 23 cents per diluted share, in the same period last year. On an adjusted basis, net losses were $1 million, or 0 cents per diluted share, in line with market watchers’ bets.

By category, footwear continues to enjoy the highest growth rate for Under Armour, rising 9 percent to $246 million in Q4, driven by strength in running, tempered by softness in team sports and basketball. Apparel revenue increased 2 percent to $952 million as growth in men’s training and global football was offset by declines in the team sports and outdoor categories. Accessories revenue increased 6 percent to $111 million, led by men’s training and running.

“After years of rapid growth and building a globally recognized brand, the dynamic landscape of 2017 was a catalyst for us to begin strategically transforming Under Armour into an operationally excellent company,” chairman and CEO Kevin Plank said in a release. “A year into this journey, our fourth-quarter and full-year results demonstrate that the tough decisions we’re making are generating the stability necessary to create a more consistent and predictable path to deliver long-term value to our shareholders.”

Despite progress, the brand continues to struggle in the U.S. market where revenue fell 4 percent during the quarter. However, international momentum continued with revenue up 47 percent, representing 23 percent of total revenue. Sales in EMEA were up 45 percent; up 56 percent in Asia-Pacific; and up 36 percent in Latin America.

For the full year, Under Armour’s revenues grew 3 percent to $5 billion. Net losses were $48 million, or 11 cents per diluted share. Adjusted net income was $87 million, or 19 cents per diluted share.

Looking ahead, the firm predicts that its 2018 revenues will be up at a low-single-digit percentage rate reflecting a mid-single-digit decline in North America and international growth of greater than 25 percent. Adjusted diluted EPS is expected in the range of 14 cents to 19 cents.

Under Armour today also updated the restructuring plan it unveiled last year and said it now expects to generate a minimum of $75 million in annual savings from lease terminations and other related efforts beginning in 2019.

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