Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) stock has risen to more than seven times its IPO price since the company went public in 2005. However, over the last year the stock is actually down 20% as the market seems to be worried about the company's prospects, and its ability to grow revenues fast enough to justify a lofty valuation of more than 100 times earnings.
Recent fears aside, the argument could be made that Under Armour is firing on all cylinders. As icing on the cake, the company has grown each of its segments while investing in new areas of growth for years to come. Here are five reasons Under Armour stock has plenty of room to run, from shortest to longest time horizons.
1. Olympics boost
Under Armour sponsored athletes such as Michael Phelps, the USA gymnastics team, and Andy Murray -- all of which performed incredibly well at the Summer Olympics. Not only did UA's logo make it to the top of the podium multiple times, but Michael Phelps and Simone Biles were selected to be the USA flag bearers in the opening and closing ceremonies in Rio.
Even without paying the millions of dollars required to be a formal Olympic sponsor, Under Armour's brand was still incredibly visible at the games and on social media. Michael Phelps Facebook Live video session was the most watched of any athlete's, with nearly 4 million views.
Even though Under Armour missed out on the opportunity to have its other notable endorsers, such as Steph Curry of the NBA and golfer Jordan Spieth at the Olympics (each declined to participate), UA logo's appearance on such well-performing and well-liked athletes is likely to be reflected in 2016's Q3 and Q4 sales.
2. International sales growth
Current and prospective shareholders should expect international sales to grow quickly the rest of this year and next. As of the most recent quarter, international sales made up just 15% of its total. Compare that to Nike (NYSE:NKE), which makes more than half of its sales outside of the U.S.
While many question whether Under Armour can continue to grow its sales as quickly as it has in the recent past -- in excess of 20% year over year for each of the last 26 quarters -- international growth is one way that it likely can. As the brand's footprint grows in the U.S. and sales growth here starts to plateau, it has plenty of potential to accelerate growth elsewhere. In China specifically, an estimated 300 million people play basketball, and the NBA is the league of choice to watch. Steph Curry has already made multiple tours of China for Under Armour. Expect sales there to lead Under Armour's long-term growth.
Under Armour recently announced a new partnership to sell its clothing in the department store Kohl's (NYSE:KSS) Some analysts who believe that this will require the brand to cut prices on its gear to reach Kohl's audience. We've recently learned that Under Armour is planning to sell some of its more basic and casual clothing at Kohl's, much of which will be targeted toward women, while continuing to reserve its performance gear for more high-end retailers and online. This should help Under Armour to increase sales without affecting prices on higher priced gear or hurting its brand image.
One reason that Under Armour's stock has suffered this year was the bankruptcy of athletic retailer Sports Authority, which is currently liquidating assets and closing its 140 stores. Sports Authority had been one of Under Armour's largest retail partners, and because of the bankruptcy, it wrote off a $23 million impairment in its most recent quarter. As the Sports Authority shock subsides, new partnerships like the one with Kohl's and others will help to diversify Under Armour sales channels, reach new audiences, and boost overall sales.
4. Manufacturing innovation
One of Under Armour's longest-term bets is its new manufacturing innovation center called "Lighthouse." This 35,000-square-foot facility houses modern manufacturing equipment from 3D printers and body scanners to robotic automated manufacturing units that allow it to test-produce new gear. As CEO Kevin Plank puts it, "The UA Lighthouse will serve as a beacon to make product better, faster, and more efficiently, ultimately solving real problems for athletes and making them better around the world."
This focus on manufacturing will have many implications, from better products with less room for error, to customization. One of the most important advantages will be the ability to do local manufacturing both in the United States and in each region of the world. Plank believes this will bring tens of thousands of new jobs to the United States in manufacturing centers that will make products for local customers. The same will be true in each region. Not only does this help Under Armour to be the local product all over the world, it should eventually cut down on manufacturing costs, shipping costs, and even taxes as the gear will no longer be imported in any country.
The short term stock boost not to expect
Each of the points noted above should lead to increased sales and earnings for UA, which in turn will help to boost the stock. What investors should not expect is Under Armour to lower its research and development costs. While these heavy costs are cutting into earnings now, it's also the reason that Under Armour can create such high-demand products, outfit some of the world's greatest athletes, grow e-commerce so quickly, and ultimately make massive bets on what the future will look like, such as with its "Lighthouse" facility. So while Under Armour stock is already expensive trading at 109 times earnings, there's plenty of reason to believe that it has plenty of room to go up from here.
Seth McNew owns shares of Nike, Under Armour (A Shares), and Under Armour (C Shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Nike and Under Armour (A Shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Under Armour (C Shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.