Respect Your Universe Gains Major Endorsements in Fastest Growing Sport
Respect Your Universe (RYUN), a niche producer of mixed martial arts ("MMA") sportswear, has been rapidly expanding across core distribution channels from the Internet to the brick-and-mortar retail store. MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world, and its most popular organization, the UFC, has started to take the lead in pay-per-view combat sports. On the more local scale, the go-to source for sports entertainment, Bleacher Report, has reported that MMA is the fastest growing sport in America. Since the sport has participation starting in ages as young as 5, demographic trends will further increase its relative popularity.
Aside from positive secular developments, the company is fundamentally strong in its own right. Echoing a similar brand image as Nike, RYU emphasizes a consumer-centric business model that has resonated well with its existing retail partners. Towards that end, the emerging sportswear producer (1) markets sustainable products made from organic cottons and recycled material and (2) is the only true designer of performance exercise gear prototyped with professional Martial Artists. They are directly targeting their growing market through the UFC and pay-per-view events alongside top brands like Bud Light and Harley Davidson. RYU markets a variety of products, including shirts, tops, jackets, and hoodies, that were created by specifically asking elite athletes about the ideal fit.
Perhaps the biggest endorsement that an athletic brand can have is endorsements from the athletes themselves. Top Welterweight fighter Jon Fitch, Mr. Olympia Phil Health, Boston Red Sox-turned-Yankees outfielder Darnell McDonald have all started to represent the brand. Investors should be cognizant of how Nike's brand was similarly built from major endorsements. By being the leader in targeting the fastest growing sports market, RYU has momentum working in its favor.
Click here to see why top athletes are sporting the RYU brand.
Meaningful cross-selling opportunities could further be realized under a partnership with either Nike or Under Armour. Since brand is king in sports retailing, a takeover would be a key way for both firms to gain exposure to the rising MMA market.
Fortunately, a partnership is likely, since the company is led by seasoned management that has held positions with Nike and Lululemon Athletica (LULU). The Chief Operating Officer, Erick Siffert, held multiple senior executive roles at Nike from 1988 to 2007 when the brand was just starting to rise from obscurity. During his career at the footwear producer, shareholder value soared by 5,090%. He then helped another competitor rise from obscurity when he took on the role of Director of Product Operations at Lululemon from 2007 to 2009. His work there laid the foundation for shareholder value to soar by 325.3% since the IPO. RYU has similarly more than doubled in value since its IPO, but it still is worth just one-third of its 52-week high. Siffert has had a knack for picking the most undervalued brands before they become widely recognized by the market. He is expected to do the same for RYU, which has increasingly grained traction.
By creating a Las Vegas Flagship store in 2H12 and a second store in late 2013, RYU will reach more consumers than ever before. The company recently announced that the company was making a major debut at the 2012 UFC Fan Expo on July 6 and 7. Top UFC fighters scheduled appearances at its booth, including Jamie Varner, Darren Elkins, TJ Waldburger, and Dennis Hallman, among several others. Company representative Rocky Bice said he was "pumped" for the event that would give fans the opportunity to not only buy RYU gear but to "meet and hang out with the fighters who use and wear the RYU gear on a daily basis". We are similarly excited for the firm's recognition going forward and believe that the company's executive leadership, intellectual capital, major endorsements, distributional growth, and strengthening demand have yet to be fully factored into the stock price.
Disclaimer: The distributor of this research report, Gould Partners, is not a licensed investment adviser or broker dealer. We are a consultant to a third-party representing Respect Your Universe and have been commissioned six hundred dollars for independent research. Investors are cautioned to perform their own due diligence as information contained within this report has been derived from public sources and cannot be guaranteed by us to be fully accurate. Always discuss investments with a licensed professional before making any financial decision. Statements made herein are often "forward-looking statements" as defined under Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 21E of the Securities Act of 1934, and the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Since these statements are uncertain, actual results may be materially different from those expected.
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