High-performance athletic apparel and footwear maker Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) announced fourth-quarter and full-year earnings on Feb. 4, and the results were another blowout. The highlights:

  • Q4 sales rose 31% in Q4 and 32% for the full year. 
  • Earnings per share climbed 35% in Q4 and 27% for the full year.
  • Apparel, footwear, and international sales continue to accelerate sequentially.
  • Total sales passed the $3 billion mark for the year. 

By every measure, Under Armour continues to exceed expectations. Let's take a closer look. 

Growth in footwear and international business continues 
International sales grew 90% in the third quarter, a phenomenal result that still pales in comparison with the 123% growth the company reported this past quarter. International sales now represent 9% of total sales, up from only 6% of sales in 2013. Footwear sales increased 55% -- up from the 50% in Q3 -- driven by new running and basketball shoes, according to the release. 

These are two of the most important focuses for the company right now, so seeing further acceleration of growth here is fantastic news. 

Investing in further growth 
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has said that the company will remain disciplined when it comes to marketing expense, holding to a target of 11%, with the exception of international marketing, where the target is 15%. This strategy seems to make sense, based on the explosive growth in international sales.

This is, however, going to have some impact on profitability while the company dedicates extra resources to establish its brand overseas.  Sales, general, and administrative expenses increased slightly as a percentage of sales, to 37.5% from 37.3% in 2013. As I wrote in the earnings preview, this isn't that much of a concern, as right now is the time the company should be investing in marketing. The impact on earnings today will pay off in the long term. 

Looking ahead 
The company provided updated guidance for 2015 sales and is expecting revenue of $3.76 billion, 22% growth from 2014's sales. While it's not the 31% the company grew last year, it's still a significant target, though probably well within reason. On the earnings side, Under Armour revised the guidance down, based on the impact of the $475 million acquisition of MyFitnessPal, furthering the company's steps to expand into the connected fitness market.  

Much like the increased marketing to grow internationally, spending to establish its presence in digital health and fitness is one of the ways the company can establish even closer, more personal relationships with its customers. The impact on profits in 2015 should lead to future profits well in excess of the cost, if the company can continue to integrate connected fitness into its arsenal.

Keeping perspective 
Under Armour's growth over the past several years has been phenomenal, and it looks as if things are in place for the growth to remain strong in coming years. As long as the company can continue to execute on its growth initiatives, shareholders are likely to be rewarded.