Under Armour (NYSE:UAA) is beginning to have a presence on the golf course thanks to UA sponsored Jordan Spieth getting his third impressive win this year at the recent John Deere Classic on June 12. This win is on the heels of his Masters and U.S. Open wins earlier this year (Spieth is among just 6 golfers ever to win both in the same year). With Spieth, just 21 years old, and other young and less-likely athletes, Under Armour has been able to bring its brand reputation as the underdogs with the will to win (in line with the "I Will" campaign) to the golf course. Here's how much golf could eventually be worth to Under Armour.
UA's winning bets
Under Armour has taken a unique approach to sponsoring athletes. Somehow UA has been able to pick players that are less well known but that turn into major winners while part of the UA team. Other than Spieth, Under Armour's recent similar successes include Misty Copeland and Steph Curry which have each just made history within their own sports this year after Under Armour took a bet on them early on.
Under Armour's bet on 19 year old golfer Jordan Spieth two years ago turned out to be a huge success when Spieth won his first Master's tournament in April of this year after resigning with UA for a 10 year deal. Under Armour's stock price jumped slightly after each of Spieth's earlier wins, and again about 3.5% on June 13 following the John Deere Classic.
But Spieth isn't the only golfer UA is betting on. Under Armour has signed about a dozen other golfers, including Hunter Mahan who has won six PGA titles. Spieth is on a winning streak now, but UA isn't banking on just him, it's putting its brand all over golf in general.
How much could UA golf really be worth?
Spieth's first win in April led to a Piper Jaffray analyst upgrading their UA target share price to $93 from $90. At that time, shares were around $85. Since then shares have continued to climb and after a nice 3% bump on the Monday following the John Deere Classic, shares were at around $90. Most recently the stock got another upgrade to a price target of $95 from $91 by Cowen Research.
Why are these analysts so excited about UA Golf? FBR analyst Susan Anderson estimated that in Q2 Under Armour will release earnings with golf related sales up 50% year over year. Other analysts predict UA's golf segment could double over the few years as all of this press, as well as great products, lead to golf segment revenue going from $200 million in 2014 to around $400 million as early as 2017.
Is UA Golf a hole in one for UA shareholders?
No, golf itself isn't a reason to bet on Under Armour as it only makes up about 5% of total revenue right now. Also, this athlete sponsoring strategy isn't cheap, it's the main reason why UA's marketing costs jumped to $333 million in 2014 from $246.5 million in 2013, so we'll wait to see how much of that revenue increase makes it to the bottom line (initially that is, UA still has a pretty good profit margin). Furthermore, Under Armour isn't alone on the golf course, as competitor Nike (NYSE:NKE) has long dominated the sport with big names like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy that still have many more wins under their belts than Spieth.
Still, golf is just one more reason to look at everything Under Armour is doing for what could be an incredibly profitable company altogether in the future. Under Armour broke $3 billion in sales last year for the first time, and overtook Adidas to become the second largest athletic apparel company behind Nike. It's still far behind Nike, which reported $27.8 billion in sales in 2014 compared to UA's just $3.08 billion, but Under Armour looks to be in a great place behind Nike, allowing it to keep the "underdog" appearance which has served it so well while it continues to boost earnings at an impressive pace.
Analysts at Poser believe the company can continue to increase annual sales over the next 5 years to $10 billion, which at it's current profit margin of around 6.8% would mean 2020 earnings of about $680 million. So while UA's current P/E is very high at around 95 times, that 2020 estimate brings UA down to a P/E of just 23 times at its current share price (holding number of shares outstanding constant). While this is a very long time horizon to try to seriously estimate, and plenty of risks could lie ahead, it shows how much potential the stock still has over the long term. With golf on the rise-as well as soccer, running, women's apparel, digital and connected fitness, and much more -- it's easy to see why UA continues to look like a brand that can keep winning for a long time.