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Under Armour hits record as shares surge 22%

The Exchange

Under Armour (UA) was having the second-best single day in its post-IPO history Thursday and setting a record high in the process after traders furiously bid up the stock following a big earnings report.

The Baltimore-based fitness clothes maker was recently climbing 22% to $103.99, the biggest gain it's had in a session with the exception of Oct. 28, 2008, when it rose 26.3%, FactSet data show. Volume was about seven times higher than normal. At its peak, shares changed hands at $106.65.

Under Armour took off after the company said this year's revenue would be $2.84 billion to $2.87 billion, up from $2.33 billion in 2013. That range is ahead of the $2.77 billion analysts are expecting and would be growth of 22% to 23% year over year. Fourth-quarter earnings, also reported, showed a profit of 59 cents a share on sales of $682.8 million, easily topping Wall Street expectations of 53 cents and $620.2 million. The top line was up some 35% from the same period a year earlier.

Here in 2014, Under Armour is currently in its sixth consecutive year of gains, and it's beaten the S&P in four straight.

Source: FactSet

Short covering was likely playing some degree of a role in the surge, as about 11.7% of Under Armour's stock is sold short. However, the total position actually stands at 8.1 million shares as of Jan. 15, down from 12.7 million a year ago.

Public since late 2005, Under Armour has risen 574% while on the market. It started in 1996 and joined an industry dominated by entrenched global names such as Nike (NKE) and Adidas. Now, it's widely known for the "We must protect this house" commercials, and its goods are easy to find in most sporting goods retailers with the old guard.

The brand has gotten a boost from its association with athletes like three-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and UFC champ Georges St-Pierre, along with a recent deal with Notre Dame.

And it just might be close to adding another huge alliance: Johnny Football. Speculation has emerged that former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel may be considering an endorsement pact with Under Armour, which, if it happened, would give the company one of the highest-profile football players in the country. Manziel will be in this year's NFL draft after starting for two years at A&M, the first of those ending with him winning the Heisman Trophy. Of course, he's had a way of making an ample number of headlines for his off-the-field activity, as well as what he does in uniform.

Manziel ultimately might be a bust, he might be a star, he might be somewhere in between, but assuming he does make a pro team and joins the Under Armour stable, rest assured you'll see that corporate logo everywhere he is.