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Thomas Mcmillen
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  • Should Nike Buy Under Armour? 1 comment
    Apr 5, 2009 7:44 PM | about stocks: UA, NKE

    Nike needs to start considering what benefits they would have by exploring a purchase of Under Armour.  Nike has tried to duplicate many of Under Armour's signature products, including the first product, the Under Armour underwear gear.  Additionally, Under Armour's cold gear is a popular item for football players in cold weather games, along with their increasing popularity to younger generations of athletes.   

    Under Armour's recent introduction of running shoes is also a threat to long term shareholder value for Nike.  As of right now, the shoes are barely noticeable to Nike, with billions of dollars of sales in running shoes and running apparel for Nike.  Under Armour is only trying to steal a small piece of the pie.  But, with young consumers very aware of the Under Armour brand, it seems that Under Armour has the momentum to one day steal a greater piece of that pie.  Nike could act now to thwart any chances of Under Armour damaging their market share.  Obviously, any threat is years away, but now is the time to put an end to that possibility.  

    But, the biggest benefit would be a purchase of Under Armour at a depressed price and before they truly start developing momentum as a public company.  Currently, Under Armour is trading south of $20 a share ($18.07 as of April 3).  Nike could use their $2.6 Billion in cash or more prudently offer a deal that includes their stock as consideration.  

    If Nike offered in the $28-33 a share range they would be offering an excellent premium. A premium that most shareholders will not be able to turn down, and a price the board will have a hard time rejecting (but they will try and try hard).  

    CEO Kevin Plank, would likely put up a strong fight.  It is doubtful that he would want to sell the company he has built from the ground up at such a young stage or even at all. That is why the strong premium would be necessary. Insiders currently own less than 7% of the company. This means Plank does not have the votes necessary to defeat a strong takeover attempt by Nike.  He would have to show his large shareholders that he has a long term plan superior to the offer by Nike.  A difficult burden, considering the economy and retail's relative uncertainty.  

    Nike needs this deal to take advantage of the recession.  They have an iconic brand and management has made prudent decisions over the last decade.  Nike has a relatively small debt load for a retailer (800 million) and this would not add to that burden. Moreover, Nike still has momentum in a variety of developing nations, introducing Under Armour would only help that cause.  

    Pulling the trigger now will allow Nike to gradually incorporate Under Armour within their brand and decrease competition for many of the products they sale head to head. This will have the benefit of increasing margins and stifling any attempt at price wars.  

    Nike can clearly compete against Under Armour, and probably win most of the battles over the long run.  But, instead they could acquire Under Armour at a discount price, use their inventory controls, superior management, and industry knowledge to build a stronger Under Armour, cut costs and create a real asset to shareholders.  

    Such a purchase would also ensure that Nike's growth continues.  Nike is becoming a mature company and growth is still respectable, but Under Armour if properly utilized and managed could add to the bottom line in a big way.

    At the very least, Nike needs to consider the option.  And if they deem the option to be profitable, they need to act quickly, because Under Armour will not always be trading under $20 dollars a share.  

    *I do not have a position in either Nike or Under Armour, nor have I ever.  

    *This article first appeared at


    Stocks: UA, NKE
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  • User 389264
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    Comment (1) | Send Message
    Good take. Probably right on valuation.
    5 Apr 2009, 09:29 PM Reply Like
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