Deals and IPOs

Under Armour CEO is calling out Nike and Adidas

Under Armour's fitness connection: CEO
Under Armour's fitness connection: CEO

Under Armour is creating the world's largest digital health and fitness community because the more people exercise, the more shirts and shoes they buy, the sports company founder and CEO Kevin Plank told CNBC on Thursday. He also said he wants Nike and Adidas to know what it feels like to be No. 2 and to "get used to that."

Instead trying to play in the highly competitive wearables market, Plank said in a "Squawk Box" interview that he sees value in building a community that users can tap into with any device. "[It's] a place where we weren't tied to a consumer electronic but where we could be the destination regardless of what the best 'widget' on the market was," he continued. "Whatever you had, it would plug in and we would read and synthesize that information as easy as possible."

Under Armour announced late Wednesday a deal to buy for $475 million the San Francisco-based fitness app MyFitnessPal, a leading resource for healthy living and nutrition with over 80 million registered users. The company also said it completed in early January its $85 million acquisition of Denmark-based Endomondo, with about 20 million registered users primarily in Europe.

Austin, Texas-based MapMyFitness became part of the Under Armour digital portfolio in December 2013, and since then registered users on that platform have grown from 20 million to 31 million.

After Wednesday's closing bell on Wall Street, Under Armour said it earned 40 cents a share in the fourth quarter on a 31 percent increase in revenue to $895 million. Both were higher than expectations.

Under Armour is now the second largest sportswear maker in North America, overtaking Germany's Adidas but still trailing No. 1 Nike.

Adidas shrugged off the competition's push later Thursday. "We're in the midst of our most aggressive effort to drive growth in the U.S.," including signing the University of Miami and Arizona State University, said Mark King, Adidas' North American group president. He noted that Adidas is also launching new shoes, including "Damian Lillard's new signature shoe that goes on sale tomorrow."

"Our competitors have a lot more money," said Plank, who added that he needs to spend smart.

"That's what really led to getting behind wearables," he continued. "For the first time we can say we're No. 1 in the world. I want my team to know what it feels like to be the largest in the world, the largest health and fitness digital community in the entire world."

King added that Adidas is also making digital moves and will be "unveiling a new sneaker reservation app that's changing the industry and launching a new brand campaign next week."

Nike did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment.