Despite facing federal investigations regarding its accounting practices, stock in Under Armour, a fan-favorite athletic apparel company, has still performed well over the last decade.
The company launched in 1996 solely making sweat-wicking athletic shirts. But it has since expanded into nearly every area of athletic apparel and footwear, including running shoes and womenswear. It has also signed deals with top athletes, including basketball star Stephen Curry and golfer Jordan Spieth. Compared with its peers, Under Armour is still known to be more focused on performance than fashion. In some ways that has hurt the brand, as Lululemon's sales have skyrocketed while Under Armour has been struggling of late.
Although the company's sales have slowed recently, those who invested in Under Armour 10 years ago would have earned a healthy return. A $1,000 investment in 2009 would be worth more than $4,700 as of Nov. 22, 2019, for a total return of around 370%, according to CNBC calculations. By comparison, in the same time frame, the S&P 500 had a total return of around 250%. Under Armour's current share price is hovering around $16.
CNBC: Under Armour's stock as of November.
While Under Armour shares have done well over the years, it's stock has fallen 21% in the last six months. And so, it's important to note that any individual stock can over- or underperform, and past returns do not predict future results.
On Nov. 15, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who is scheduled to step down from his role as of Jan. 1, responded to reporting by The Wall Street Journal that said the athletic apparel retailer borrowed business from future quarters to cover up slowing demand at the end of 2016. Plank said Under Armour's integrity "is unshaken" despite ongoing investigations by the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission over the Baltimore-based company's accounting practices.
"Given recent events that have entered the realm of public opinion without full context, it is disappointing to have our integrity and reputation called into question," Plank said in a memo sent to employees, which was obtained by CNBC.
Reporting by Journal describes practices employed by Under Armour as it "scrambled" to meet aggressive sales goals. The company allegedly moved around inventory and shifted sales from quarter to quarter to improve financial metrics in the final days of a given quarter. These tactics, and others, were allegedly used to prolong a 26-quarter streak of 20% sales growth through late 2016.
As a result of the SEC's probe into Under Armour, Goldman Sach's removed the company from its conviction buy list, which is a listing of stocks the investment bank's research team expects to outperform.
Despite the controversy, the company's third-quarter earnings and sales announced in early November still topped analyst expectations.
When it comes to shoe sales, Under Armour's focus on performance hasn't been paying off. While other athletic apparel companies, such as Nike and Adidas, have partnered with celebrities like Kanye West and Beyonce, to release high-profile collaborations, Under Armour has maintained its focus on innovation and, as a result, revenue fell 12% in the third quarter, CNBC reports.
Not all of Under Armour's recent headlines have been negative, however. At the end of October, the National Lacrosse League re-signed its sponsorship deal with Team 22, the manufacturer of Under Armour lacrosse gear. As part of the three-year contract, Under Armour will provide gear and equipment for the players.
Additionally, Under Armour is taking its advanced apparel line into space. In mid-October, it was announced that the company would make spacesuits to be worn by Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic astronauts during upcoming flights. The collection, which is said to be the first line of spacesuits "created specifically for private astronauts," will include a spacesuit, a training suit, footwear and a limited-edition jacket.
When it comes to Under Armour's overall stock performance, the athletic apparel company's shares haven't always been on the rise. In 2017, its stock fell more than 50% as demand for products slowed. And while its shares have been making a steady recovery ever since, Under Armour could be up against a rough end to 2019 amid the investigations.
If you are considering getting into investing, experts, including Warren Buffett, often advise starting with index funds, which hold all of the companies in an index, such as the S&P 500. Because index funds fluctuate with the market and aren't tied to the performance of a single business, they're less risky than individual stocks, making them a safer choice for beginners.
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