Why Under Armour Will Outperform in 2012

My good friend and fellow Fool Tamara Rutter recently made the case that Under Armour (NYS: UA) will underperform this year for various reasons. I, on the other hand, believe that the athletic apparel maker will perform quite well this year, continuing its 11-quarter trend of exceeding analyst expectations.

As a motley bunch, we Fools often have varying opinions when it comes to companies, and this is no different. Tamara pointed to three reasons she thought that Under Armour was going to have a rough year. While I agree in part with some of her points, I think the company deserves another look. I am so confident that Under Armour will outperform that I made a bullish CAPScall on the stock in September that will remain throughout the year.

Point No. 1: Gotta be the shoes
Tamara pointed to recent innovations by Nike (NYS: NKE) as a reason for Under Armour to just give up on making shoes. CEO Kevin Plank has said that while the goal is to be No. 1, he has plenty of time to get there. I agree with Plank that Under Armour has some time to be patient growing its shoe segment, which only represents 12% of its revenue from last year. As it continues to grow its shoe revenue, which increased 43% last year, it will be able to offer products similar to those of Nike and other companies.

Point No. 2: Inventory problems
Under Armour's inventory problems are well documented, with inventory growth outpacing revenue growth by nearly 13%. Nevertheless, the company knows that this is a problem and has spent most of the past year trying to get revenues and inventory more in line, culminating in the addition of two new vice presidents with 46 years of collective sourcing and supply chain experience to improve operations and increase margins. I have faith that these industry experts will continue to help the inventory woes going forward.

Point No. 3: Relying on other stores
While it is true that brands such as Nike and Under Armour sell a lot of product through sports retailers like Dick's Sporting Goods (NYS: DKS) , Under Armour also has a growing direct-to-consumer presence as well. Direct-to-consumer sales, which include online sales and sales made at branded Under Armour stores, grew 62% over 2010, representing 27% of total revenues. Though it doesn't move $1,800 per square foot like lululemon athletica (NAS: LULU) , it also didn't have to deal with controversy over its bag choice during the holidays.

We do agree on something
I do agree with Tamara that the P/E for Under Armour is a bit high, but as she points out, it is lower than Lululemon's. And the free cash flow situation at Under Armour is something to keep an eye on, though you don't get star athletes like Tom Brady to wear your products without spending a little bit of coin.

Nevertheless, I think that Under Armour is poised for great things this year and beyond, and I have backed this up with a green thumb over on CAPS. Join in the fun, or keep an eye on this exciting company by adding Under Armour to My Watchlist.

Then again, if you don't feel like risking your money on a swelling inventory, you can always take a look at "The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012." You can learn more about this emerging-market retailer today by clicking here.

At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Robert Eberhard holds no position in any company mentioned. Follow him on Twitter. The Motley Fool owns shares of Dick's Sporting Goods, lululemon athletica, and Under Armour. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Nike, Under Armour, and lululemon athletica. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Nike. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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