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5 Reasons Under Armour Could Blow Q1 Expectations Away

By Bradley Seth McNew - Mar 30, 2016 at 10:01PM

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Here are some reasons Under Armour sales have likely surged, and why year-over-year numbers will likely look exceptional.

Under Armour (UAA 2.04%) is slated to post Q1 earnings in mid- to late April and the numbers could blow sales and earnings expectations out of the water. Average analyst expectations for Q1 sales and EPS are $1.04 billion and $0.05, respectively, according to Yahoo! Finance. Here are five reasons Under Armour should easily beat those estimates.  
1. An Under Armour tech release got major media attention 
Under Armour made headlines across a lot of different major media outlets in early January when it released its full line of Connected Fitness gear. This media list includes financial and business outlets such as Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Motley Fool, as well as sports and fitness publications such as Runner's World and Outside Magazine. All of this media attention is likely to have helped put the brand at the top of mind for millions of followers, which could help to spur sales across all categories, not just the specific tech gear.

The connected fitness gear Under Armour released in early January. Image source: Under Armour.

Then there's the growth in Under Armour's mobile app user base over the past couple of months. According to CEO Kevin Plank, Under Armour is adding around 1 million users to its various apps every eight days as of March. The company has only recently started to more aggressively push product sales to mobile users, which should have a big effect on Q1 sales as well. 
2. Athletes gained even more momentum
Under Armour athletes were incredibly successful in 2015, with Steph Curry named NBA MVP after his team won the NBA championship, Jordan Spieth winning multiple majors in golf, Misty Copeland becoming the principal ballerina for the American Ballet Theatre (the first African-American to do so), and many more incredible feats. 
In Q1 of this year, that athlete momentum has continued, with even more media attention given to Curry as he continues to dominate the 2015-16 season, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton making it to the Super Bowl, Michael Phelps publicly preparing for the 2016 Olympics, Lindsey Vonn earning a record-breaking number of world titles in January, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson making his Under Armour debut in January with the launch of a custom workout bag that sold out promptly on How well Under Armour's athletes have been performing in Q1 has helped to drive even more brand attention, and the likely accelerated sales from that attention doesn't seem to have been fairly added into Q1 estimates.

Image source: Under Armour.

3. Shoes became even more popular
Under Armour has started to gain aggressively in footwear sales, an area most analysts thought Under Armour could never thrive in just a few years ago. As of Q4, shoes accounted for 17% of UA's total sales. During Q1, Under Armour released its updated Speedform Gemini 2 running shoe; the Gemini 2 Record Equipped shoe, which has a built-in tracking chip; the UA Slingshot; and most recently its first-ever golf shoe (available for pre-order for a May ship date). 
Under Armour also released its first 3-D printed shoes, called UA Architect, in March. The company released only a limited number, but even at $300, the shoes sold out almost immediately. The company doesn't seem to have plans to release more of this shoe for a few months, but it's a sign that overall UA shoes are becoming popular.  

The 3D printed "UA Architect." Image source: Under Armour.

According to Morgan Stanley analyst Jay Sole, Under Armour's U.S. basketball shoe sales had increased 350% year to date as of March, and the Curry shoes are already a bigger franchise than those of any other basketball player other than Michael Jordan. Under Armour has continued to release new versions and colors of the Curry Two shoe throughout Q1. Between that and the other new shoes released this quarter, you can probably expect Q1 footwear sales growth to be even higher than the 95% year-over-year growth in Q4.  
4. International sales are growing and becoming more profitable
Under Armour's international sales are still a relatively small portion of its total sales, at about 11.5% as of Q4, compared with around 55% for Nike (NKE -1.00%) during the same time. However, expect 2016 Q1 international sales to show accelerated growth, as the company sees the continued payoff of having opened various new international locations and international e-commerce channels in 2015, and hosting its first "Worldwide Media Summit" in March. 
Expect to see not only international sales growth but also much more earnings growth. UA's international operating profit was $9 million in 2015, compared with a loss of $5 million in 2014 because of the costs associated with international expansion. Now that the company's investments in international markets are paying off and sales are further outpacing costs, international earnings in Q1 should be a large jump over Q1 earnings last year. 
5. After a huge spend in Q1 2015, YOY earnings will look incredible 
In Q1 2015, Under Armour purchased two fitness-tracking apps, MyFitnessPal and Endomondo, for a combined $560 million. Under Armour posted only around $11.7 million in earnings in Q1 2015 because of the cost spent on these acquisitions. Because Under Armour spent so much in Q1 2015, earnings for Q1 this year should look extra-incredible year over year.
Under Armour has still had some big tech-related expenses this quarter, including rolling out a new version of the UA Record app and building out a new digital-focused office in Austin, but its costs are not likely to be nearly as high as Q1 2015, yet the earnings estimates for the quarter look similar to last year.  
UA looks like a win, for Q1 and for the long term
Under Armour seems prepared to post an incredible Q1, with sales and earnings both likely to beat expectations, which could help drive up the stock price in the short term. However, while the next quarter looks good, long-term prospects are what make the company look especially attractive. Under Armour is on track to reach $20 billion in sales by 2025, which at its current profit margin would put earnings at $1.174 billion, about five times what it was in 2015. And with Under Armour's history of beating expectations, I expect even that could be low, which is why Under Armour continues to look like a long-term winner. 

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