No Longer under the Radar

Forget Peyton Manning’s 365 yards and three TDs for the undefeated Colts last week. Forget Reggie Bush’s 500-plus yards against Fresno State. The top performer of the week was Under Armour, the sports apparel company we profiled back in August. On Friday, the company held its IPO and scored big. It was the first U.S. IPO to double on opening day in five years.

When we visited the Baltimore-based company, Kevin Plank, its 33-year-old founder and president, was wrestling with how to manage the company’s tremendous growth (retail sales have increased five-fold in four years). The former college football player had taken a niche product, a sweat-wicking gridiron undershirt, and helped build a hot new category called performance apparel. As Nike, Adidas and practically every other sporting goods company introduced their own performance gear, Under Armour moved fast, branching out with products aimed at new sports and new markets, women in particular.

Under Armour plans to use some of the cash generated by its IPO to introduce cleats. It’s another aggressive move, a direct challenge to the footwear giants. Should be a great match-up. We’ll be watching.