Major Under Armour investor Ron Baron still believes in CEO Plank and sees big upside in stock

Major UA investor Ron Baron sees big upside in the stock

Billionaire buy-and-hold investor Ron Baron told CNBC on Wednesday he thinks Under Armour founder Kevin Plank can turn things around at the embattled sports apparel maker.

The stock is "cheap," Baron said on "Squawk Box," but he refused to get into his current moves concerning UA due to investment reporting restrictions.

"When we invested in them at first there were $500 million in sales. That was 10 years ago. It's now $5 billion," Baron said. "You can make five times your money from here."

The founder of Baron Capital, with about $21 billion in assets under management, said he sold 10 or 15 percent of his Under Armour stake about two years ago near the highs and made 10 times his money, but "haven't sold any since."

Shares of Under Armour nosedived about 23 percent on Jan. 31 after the company reported lower-than-expected quarterly sales and issued a 2017 revenue warning.

Under Armour also announced its CFO was leaving for personal reasons after only about a year on the job.

"The problems [are] you've had some turnover of people, a little bit too much inventory, they're expanding in Europe [and] internationally which is costly," Baron said.

"They've lost some distribution where Sports Authority went out of business," he added.

Baron said the positives include a growth $1 billion sneaker business. "That was up 50 percent last year," he said.

The long-term stock picker also predicts growth in the firm's $1 billion women's line and its online direct-to-consumer sales.

Last week, Plank came on CNBC to defend his company, saying he "would not bet against Under Armour," pointing to its track record of growth.

"Now he's focusing on doubling his revenues in five or six years," Baron told CNBC, saying it's not easy when competing with sports behemoths Nike and Adidas.

But it was Plank's comment about President Donald Trump that has drawn national attention and criticism from UA-sponsored athletes including NBA star Steph Curry.

The Under Armour chairman and CEO told CNBC: "To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity."

Curry, the face of Under Armour basketball, quickly used Plank's comments to criticize Trump, saying, "I agree with that description if you remove the 'et,'" from asset.

The Golden State Warriors guard supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the election.

There's also been fallout on Wall Street.

Susquehanna lowered its rating for Under Armour shares to negative from neutral, saying Plank's comments on Trump will hurt financial results.

Baron also talked up his $300 million stake in Tesla, saying the stock could quadruple by 2020, triple again by 2025, and triple by 2030.