Steph Curry has undoubtedly played an enormous role in the ascension Under Armour Inc UA has undergone in the last few years to become a major player in the athletic apparel market. The Baltimore-based brand just recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
While Under Armour has been relevant in sports for some time, the company wasn't able to break into the basketball market successfully before Steph Curry's arrival to the brand. Basketball is one of the most important segments of an athletic apparel company's success. Under Armour has been on a well-noted hot streak of athletic endorsements, but often times top players in other sports don't necessarily translate to sales.
Take Under Armour's recent 10-year extension for MLB superstar Bryce Harper. While it's beneficial to the overall status of the brand to secure the top players in each sport, the baseball shoe market is worth approximately just $200 Million. It's the multi-billion dollar basketball shoe market that's one of the most important segments to capture for a company to like Under Armour to compete with Nike Inc NKE for the long haul.
It's no surprise that Curry's MVP status has delivered impressive results to the company's bottom line, and is now a viable basketball shoe brand and competitor to Nike. Under Armour footwear performance rose 64 percent in Q1, and growth is likely to increase with the arrival of the Curry 2.5's, set to release on May 28.
Under Armour has also taken the steps to secure the next future superstars of the NBA with its impressive Under Armour Association grassroots presence, launched just three years ago. The company has also secured a key 10-year deal with UC Berkeley, an up and coming basketball school.
A recent analyst note by Bank of America indicated, "UA is currently seeing unprecedented footwear sell-through rates at retail driven by the Speedform platform and Steph Curry signature basketball sneaker. Steph Curry is supporting a large acceleration across UA with multiple opportunities in Kid's, China, core wholesale and direct-to-consumer in both footwear and apparel."
Curry continues to be a major driver for Under Armour's footwear business, as the foundation has been set to firmly entrench the company in the basketball world for the long term. Bank of America has a Buy and $54 price target on Under Armour shares, which closed Monday at $38.70.
Image credit: Matthew Addie, Flickr
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