Under Armour CEO responds to criticism of Trump praise

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank took out an ad in the Baltimore Sun Wednesday to clarify some of the favorable comments he recently made about President Trump, remarks that were criticized by several of the company's highest-profile endorsers.

Two other prominent Under Armour endorsers, ballerina Misty Copeland and former wrestler turned Hollywood superstar Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, have also taken issue with Plank's comments on Trump.

Susquehanna analyst Sam Poser, who recently downgraded the stock to a "sell" equivalent, likened the fallout to what happened after Lululemon Athletica Inc. founder Chip Wilson said the yoga-gear maker's trousers "don't work" for certain women.

"In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent", wrote Plank.

"We are publicly opposing the travel ban", he goes on to say, and that the company plans to join a "coalition of companies in opposition to any new actions that negatively impact our team, their families and our community". Curry threatened to leave his agreement with Under Armour, and Copeland asked Plank to clarify his comments and the company's views on White House policies, specifically the proposed travel ban. "In this case, perception is reality".

Poser said Plank will have to do more to reassure nervous spokespeople and customers.

Poser cited the "reputational risk" and "sloppy management commentary in a polarized political environment".

Backlash to the executive's comments swiftly followed.

Billionaire Under Armour founder and CEO Kevin Plank responded Thursday in a full-page newspaper ad to a barrage of criticism, including from star endorsers like Stephen Curry, over calling President Donald Trump a "real asset to this country". "So there's a lot that I respect there".

Curry, the two-time defending NBA MVP who reportedly brought Under Armour $200 million in 2016 sales, responded to Plank's description of Trump as an "asset" to the country in a tweet: "I agree with that description, if you remove the 'et'". "When a sports figure becomes engaged, it takes the story to an entirely different level". In its most recent quarterly earnings report, the company reported a significant slow-down in its sales, predicted slower revenue growth in 2017, and announced a leadership shake-up in its senior ranks. (Stuff made outside the USA and sold overseas wouldn't incur the tax.) Under Armour generated 89 percent of its sales in the US last year, but virtually all its products are manufactured in 16 countries overseas, according to company filings.

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