Online, Under Armour Spreads Itself Thin

By Sara Germano Features Dow Jones Newswires

Is Under Armour Inc. cannibalizing online sales of its own products?

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New research published this month shows the sportswear maker is selling many items, particularly premium footwear like its Steph Curry basketball shoes, at multiple retailers, a level of overlap that could push prices lower and confuse shoppers in an already competitive market.

Analysts from Credit Suisse tracked Under Armour men's footwear products available on its own website, as well as those sold online by major retailers Dick's Sporting Goods Inc., Foot Locker Inc., and Kohl's Corp.

In data collected during the last week of March, researchers found more than 1,000 products available on at least two of those sites. According to their findings, UnderArmour.com was selling 268 products also found on DicksSportingGoods.com and 165 on FootLocker.com

Christian Buss, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said he was surprised by the amount of premium sneaker overlap. "The more broadly a product is available, the less likely the sale will be captured at full price, and the more likely the brand is to struggle with its positioning," he said.

The analysis comes as Under Armour works to revive slumping revenue growth, particularly in its core U.S. market. The company reports its latest quarterly results on Thursday.

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Nike Inc. and other sportswear rivals also sell some premium products across multiple sites -- for example, Nike's popular Air Force 1 shoe is available on Nike.com as well as FootLocker.com.

But it and Adidas AG, both of which have bigger products lines than Under Armour, can be more selective in how they parcel out goods to specific retailers, Mr. Buss said. Nike often offers limited releases of its premium Jordans to basketball shoe stores, which adds to their exclusivity and makes discounting less likely.

Under Armour didn't respond to requests for comment. On a call with analysts in January, Chief Executive Kevin Plank said "we learned our segmentation strategy could be sharper" and pledged to improve the company's results.

Under Armour began offering signature basketball shoes in 2015, with its first edition of sneakers for Mr. Curry. Those shoes tend to be less expensive than signature shoes for rival stars such as LeBron James and Kevin Durant, both of whom have lines with Nike.

Nike recently cut prices for some of its signature sneakers, and Foot Locker last week warned of weak quarterly profits, though it blamed delayed tax refunds for sapping demand for NBA All-Star sneakers.

Sneakers are still a small business for Under Armour, which was punished last quarter after its revenue growth came in below 20% for the first time in nearly seven years. North American sales accounted for 83% of Under Armour's 2016 revenue, in contrast with Nike and Adidas, each of whom conduct more of their business outside the region.

Under Armour is expected this week to report a quarterly loss of $17 million, or $0.04 per share, on sales of $1.1 billion, according to analysts polled by FactSet.

Write to Sara Germano at sara.germano@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 26, 2017 14:39 ET (18:39 GMT)