Source: SandyDover via Flickr (Modified)
According to the Wall Street Journal, CEO Kevin Plank had perhaps a “problematic” relationship with MSNBC anchor, Stephanie Ruhle. It looks like she gave business and political advice and also took rides on his personal jet. The board learned about this through a discovery of email communications.
Yet the good news is that not much has come out of this story. And hopefully for the sake of Under Armour stock, there are no more unexpected surprises.
A Look at Under Armour Stock
Keep in mind that the company’s turnaround has been a success. Since UAA stock dropped below $13 in October, there has been a powerful bull run, with return at 92%. Granted, the stock price is far from the all-time high of $50 in 2015. But hey, not long ago Wall Street had little hope for Under Armour stock.
However, the turnaround process has certainly taken time – it began in 2016 – and has been choppy. A big reason is that UAA has had to transition from being a startup operation to a more mature company. This can be challenging, especially for a CEO who does not have a background in running a large organization.
But Plank has proven that he can adapt. For example, he has been willing to make tough cost cutting decisions that have involved layoffs and has been effective in bringing down the long-term debt load, lowering the interest costs.
In the meantime, Plank has still been focused on finding opportunities for growth. This has mostly been the result of investments in international markets, which have paid off.
So in the latest quarter, sales rose by 3% (when factoring out currency movements). UAA also showed progress with margins, about 1.5% during the past year.
All this is great, right? Definitely. But investors should still consider that there remain some tough challenges, which could weigh on UAA stock. Let’s face it, the competitive environment continues to be intense. The company must fight against mega companies like Nike (NYSE:NKE) and Adidas (OTCMKTS:ADDYY). For a company like UAA, it is tough to rise above the noise.
Next, the turnaround will likely get tougher as there is not much low-hanging fruit left. For the most part, UAA has cleaned up its inventory and streamlined its cost structure.
And finally, the North America market remains in a funk, with sales off a horrible 6% in the latest quarter. It does highlight that its pricing approach at retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS) and at a discount at Kohl’s (NYSE:KSS) has been off-the-mark, as Vince Martin said in a recent post.
Bottom Line Under Armour Stock
Now Plank’s turnaround has been impressive. Yet it does appear that much of this is already baked into UAA stock. Keep in mind that the forward price-to-earnings multiple is about 46X.
This is fairly steep given that the company is in the low-growth phase (the estimate is that the top-line will increase at about 3.5% for the year). What’s more, Wall Street’s consensus price target is at $21, which is at a 9% discount to the current valuation.
But I think the real issue is that the company has yet to find ways to improve its product line. Some of its long-time advantages, like its expertise with performance ware for example, has faded. As InvestorPlace.com’s Luke Lango has noted, Under Armour is losing relevance and popularity within its industry.
All in all, this will probably not involve a quick fix – and could mean that the stock price will have a tough time finding upside.
Tom Taulli is the author of High-Profit IPO Strategies, All About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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