Under Armour’s ‘show me’ story needs to prove itself next year, Morgan Stanley says

Boxer Carlos Balderas poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California.

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Boxer Carlos Balderas poses for a portrait at the U.S. Olympic Committee Media Summit in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California.
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Reuters/AI Project

  • Under Armour posted disappointing fiscal 2019 guidance at its investor day on Wednesday.
  • The guidance reflected that the company is trying to protect the brand and grow it gradually, CEO Kevin Plank said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday.
  • The 2019 guidance “appears appropriately conservative, but UAA needs to show investors next year numbers are achievable,” Lauren Cassel, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a note out Thursday.
  • Watch Under Armour trade live.

Under Armour really needs to prove its “show me” story next year, Morgan Stanley says.

The sporting-apparel maker on Wednesday gave disappointing fiscal 2019 guidance at its investor day, saying it expects annual sales growth of between 3% and 4%, missing the 5% increase that was expected by Wall Street. Under Armour’ adjusted earnings forecast of $0.31 to $0.33 a share was also off the mark, missing the $0.34 that was anticipated.

“I think what we tried to lay out yesterday is how we were going to go through this – protect this house time frame between ’17 and ’19 in about a low to mid-single digit range,” said CEO Kevin Plank in an interview with CNBC on Thursday.

“And as we exit that into 2020, more of a mid to high single-digit range. And then the out years, returning into a double digit range.”

The 2019 guidance “appears appropriately conservative, but UAA needs to show investors next year numbers are achievable,” Lauren Cassel, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said in a note on Thursday.

The retailer’s disappointing bottom-line forecast was primarily driven by higher than expected selling, general, and administrative expenses that are likely due to the Under Armour’s restructuring savings that will not be fully realized until 2020, according to Cassel.

Shares struggled through a dismal few years, down as much as 79% from their September 2015 peak, as the retailer struggled to get its inventory under control.

The company announced this year an ambitious restructuring plan that aimed to clear excess inventory, eliminate under-performing products, and cut more than 500 jobs. After spending most of this year resetting its business, Under Armour reported better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter.

“Management has intended to guide SG&A conservatively, beating its initial quarterly SG&A estimates 8 out of the last 9 quarters,” said Cassel.

“Despite this higher SG&A outlook, 31-33c 2019 EPS guidance was only a touch below consensus’s 34c estimate driven by a lower than expected tax rate as international profits increase. Accordingly, we are raising our 2019 EPS estimate 3c to 33c on the lower tax rate.”

Cassel has an “equal-weight” rating and a price target of $21 – 10% above where shares are trading on Thursday.

Under Armour was 32.55% this year after tanking 18% since Wednesday’s investor day.

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MI