Under Armour on Tuesday reported that first quarter revenue rose 6% (4% currency neutral) to $1.2 billion as sales abroad picked up steam, beating the $1.12 billion estimate by Thomson Reuters cited by CNBC. Wholesale revenue rose 1% to $779 million and direct-to-consumer revenue, which was 30% of global revenue in the quarter, rose 17% to $352 million.
North American revenue was "relatively flat" (down 1% currency neutral) but international revenue grew 27% (19% currency neutral), representing 24% of total revenue. Within the international business, revenue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa rose 23% (13% currency neutral), in Asia-Pacific revenue rose 35% (28% currency neutral) and in Latin America revenue rose 21% (14% currency neutral), according to a company press release.
Apparel growth outpaced footwear, with apparel revenue in the quarter rising 7% to $766 million, driven by strength in men's training and footwear revenue rising 1% to $272 million, with strength in running tempered by team sports and global football. Accessories revenue rose 3% to $92 million, also led by men's training.
As expected by Wedbush analysts, Under Armour affirmed the outlook for the year from February, with expectations for net revenue to rise at a low single-digit percentage rate reflecting a mid-single-digit decline in North America and international growth of greater than 25%.
But those analysts remain concerned about the company's ability to return to growth in North America. "[T] he quality of the results is low and brand issues will not go away quickly," according to a Wedbush note emailed to Retail Dive Tuesday. "UAA still faces challenges around product demand, newness and distribution in North America that will take time to turnaround."
Indeed, growth in Under Armour's home market has been negative or virtually non-existent for well over a year, warned GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders in a note emailed to Retail Dive, who said that is difficult to excuse considering the strength of the consumer overall. "Under Armour's image is still off-pitch and its brand strategy remains extremely muddled," he warned, saying that its troubles are of its own making. Despite some improvements in the quarter, "the numbers still give the impression of a brand that has run out of steam," he said.
The popularity of sports lifestyle wear is also hurting Under Armour, which isn't seen as a lifestyle brand by consumers, Saunders said. "While we do not believe that Under Armour's desires are misplaced, we maintain our view that the brand needs to have a much clearer identity, possibly by using sub-brands, before it can gain wider acceptance," he said in a statement. "Throwing out new products and lines before this clarity is developed is folly."
Although Under Armour's prowess, like Nike's, is overseas at the moment, North American sales in the segment made up 76% of sales last year, according to NPD. Under Armour has "also fallen slightly behind Puma, to fourth place, among the leading global athletic brands," Wedbush said last week, adding that "a scenario exists that can also have New Balance overtake Under Armour as well."