Can Under Armour Become The Next Nike With Its New Steph Curry Deal?

Under Armour is looking to boost sales and make Nike sweat, by building a Michael Jordan-like brand around NBA star Steph Curry.

Dec. 1, 2020

In the ’80s, Nike (NYSE: NKE) made the decision that helped turn its name into the global megabrand that it is today: signing NBA superstar and G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan. In reality though, MJ was a one-in-a-billion deal for Nike and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a brand and sports star grow at such a meteoric pace again, but at least Under Armour (NYSE: UAA) is going to give it a shot.

When is Under Armour launching ‘Curry Brand’?

Under Armour announced on Monday the launch of the ‘Curry Brand’ with NBA superstar Stephen ‘Steph’ Curry, an Under Armour athlete since 2013, in a bid to reach younger consumers and potentially knock Nike’s ‘Jordan Brand’ — and its $3.5 billion annual business — off of its sneaker throne.

Curry, a 3-time NBA champion and 6-time NBA All-Star, will launch his new brand this month, which will include apparel for both golf and basketball, and will extend to women’s apparel over time. Performance basketball footwear will be available on December 11, in time for holiday gift-giving.

Can Under Armour really compete with Nike?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves!

Curry is a basketball legend, no doubt: the 31-year-old Golden State Warriors point guard is widely considered to be one of the greatest shooters in NBA history, and his jersey is consistently among the top sold across the world. However, while Curry is NBA royalty, Michael Jordan remains a global phenomenon — in no small part due to this year’s ‘The Last Dance’ documentary. Curry will not rebuild the Under Armour brand in the same fashion that Jordan did Nike’s, but it’s a good start.

According to a 2019 survey by Piper Sandler, Nike has held on to the top spot as the favorite apparel brand among teens for more than a decade now, while Under Armour is ranked 11th, and number 1 on a list of brands “no longer worn” by male teens. Tough crowd…

However, giving a best-selling, household name its own brand could be the start of a big revamp for Under Armour and get the youth back buying its product. Under Armour  stock has had a rough few years, but new CEO Patrik Frisk has made it clear that he intends to change things.

In its latest quarter, Under Armour sales were about flat from a year earlier, at $1.43 billion. In North America, revenue fell 5% to $963 million, while international sales increased by 18% to $433 million. This may not be anything to shout about, but it’s actually not bad considering that we are in the midst of a pandemic that is decimating brick-and-mortar store sales, and the fact that even Nike’s overall revenue fell 4% in the same period. 

This might not exactly be a comeback for Under Armour, but it’s definitely a start in the right direction, and with its stock sitting 68% off of its all-time highs, is now the time to take a chance on a brand that has yet to live up to its full potential?

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