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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Under Armour Pushes Comeback From Recent Woes With Notre Dame Deal

  • Extension with Notre Dame pegged as richest of its type in college athletics
  • New company president looks to execute more focused business plan

One of the most prominent sports footwear and apparel companies is perhaps starting to get its groove back.

The recently embattled Under Armour has completed a $100 million licensing extension with Notre Dame believed to be the richest such deal in college sports.

The pact is also the latest move in an ongoing corporate retooling that has brought a new sense of stability to the company, which first rose to fame as a high-flying, upstart challenger to established market leaders such as Nike and Adidas.

In the last year, Under Armour has:

  • Brought in former Marriott president Stephanie Linnartz as its new president and CEO
  • Beat Wall Street estimates in its last quarter earnings
  • Struck a long-term deal with NBA superstar Stephen Curry
  • Began a heightened effort to target women’s product sales

The developments have helped to reverse a highly turbulent period in which Under Armour posted declining earnings, faced a series of embarrassing revelations over a toxic work culture, ended an on-field licensing deal with the NFL, paid UCLA a $67.5 million settlement following a bitter contract breach dispute, cut short several other major licensing college deals in similarly ugly fashion, backed off a MLB on-field uniform deal to save $50 million, and saw company founder and former CEO Kevin Plank transition to an executive chairman role.

The recent efforts, however, have yet to resonate with investors. Under Armour stock is down by 14% over the last year and now hovers around $8 per share. At the company’s high point in 2015, its stock neared $53 a share.

The company reports its next quarterly earnings on Aug. 8.

The Notre Dame deal is the first major piece of new business for the school since its recently announced athletics leadership transition from Jack Swarbrick to former NBC Sports chairman Pete Bevacqua.

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