Here’s How Under Armour Will Lose on Either Side of the Trump Trade
In recent months, as the political atmosphere has grown increasingly polarized, the stock market also seems to have split into two categories: Stocks expected to win if President Donald Trump achieves his policy goals, and ones that aren’t.
Yet Under Armour (UAA), the worst-performing S&P 500 stock since the presidential election, might come out on the losing end of the so-called Trump trade, no matter which side ultimately prevails.
While parts of Trump’s agenda could benefit Under Armour, other policies from his platform could outweigh the positives.
For example, Under Armour is positioned to be one of the biggest winners if Trump manages to enact tax reform, including corporate tax cuts, Goldman Sachs (GS) wrote in a report Friday. The retailer pays a 10-year median tax rate of 39%, Goldman estimates—one of the highest effective tax rates in the U.S.
“Firms with the highest effective tax rates should eventually outperform,” the team of Goldman Sachs analysts led by David Kostin wrote in the note to clients. Besides Under Armour, Kostin also referenced Nordstrom (JWN) and Gap (GPS), with tax rates of 39% and 38%, respectively, as major beneficiaries of tax reform.
But the Trump platform could end up backfiring in for Under Armour as other proposed policies could be detrimental to the retailer’s business. And that could put Under Armour among the stock market’s biggest losers.
For one, if Trump passes his plan to impose heavy import tariffs on U.S. companies in a bid to deter outsourcing, Under Armour and the retail space as a whole would be saddled with a much heavier tax bill.
“The border tax would have an absolutely very, very difficult effect on all companies in the consumer space, particularly retailers,” Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank acknowledged in a February interview with CNBC. “It’s the number one issue when you ask me about the new administration.”
Under Armour especially has reason to worry. While 82% of its sales come from the U.S., most of the products sold are produced abroad. In 2016 alone, for example, 60% of the firm’s apparel and accessories were produced in Jordan, Vietnam, China, and Malaysia alone. Though Under Armour is currently trying to increase production in the U.S., it may be a while before it makes most of its goods at home.
That creates a lose-lose situation for Under Armour, where the retailer may be threatened by higher border taxes if Trump’s agenda passes, but be stuck with high income taxes if it doesn’t. And the company is currently in need of a boost, after reporting poor performance during its most recent quarter.
Of course, it’s still possible that Under Armour could get the pros of Trump’s policies without the cons, if the administration slashes corporate taxes without instituting an import tariff—a best-of-both-worlds scenario that markets seemed to believe could happen immediately following the businessman’s election.
Indeed, Plank himself has struggled recently to walk the line between business and politics, attempting to express support for the President’s policies without alienating Trump’s critics. So far, such a win-win situation has largely eluded the CEO.
In a time of uncertainty when much of Trump’s agenda is still unclear, that makes Under Armour stock a rather risky buy.