In a one-on-one interview on CNBC yesterday, Under Armour CEO divulged that he really does like Donald Trump and remained confident that his company will overcome its recent struggles in the year ahead.
“I think he’s highly passionate,” Plank said of Trump. “To have such a pro-business President is something that is a real asset for the country. People can really grab that opportunity.”
Plank is one of a dozen or so American business leaders appointed by President Trump to serve on his manufacturing advisory committee. One of his counterparts, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, stepped down from the committee last weekend after facing criticism from customers. Still, Plank remains in good company, with the likes of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Whirlpool Corp. CEO Jeff Fettig and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson set to join him at the White House on a regular basis.
Plank’s open support of Trump yesterday prompted a swift backlash from customers. These tweets are just from this morning:
— J.D. Goon (@TheJDGoon) February 8, 2017
This is really bad news for my Christmas shopping this year https://t.co/FGARJxzP4U
— Sophia Puglisi (@SophiaPuglisi) February 8, 2017
Under Armour released a statement on Wednesday responding to outside criticism. It also distanced the company from some of Trump’s political positions, including his heavy-handed approach to immigration. It said, in part:
We have always been committed to developing innovative ways to support and invest in American jobs and manufacturing. For years, Under Armour has had a long-term strategy for domestic manufacturing and we recently launched our first women’s collection made in our hometown of Baltimore, MD. We are incredibly proud of this important first step in the evolution of creating more jobs at home.
We engage in policy, not politics. We believe in advocating for fair trade, an inclusive immigration policy that welcomes the best and the brightest and those seeking opportunity in the great tradition of our country, and tax reform that drives hiring to help create new jobs globally, across America and in Baltimore.
On Tuesday, Plank also discussed his company’s recently plummeting stock price, which sat glaringly next to his face on-screen during the interview. Under Armour’s shares and credit ratings took a major hit last week when the company announced it missed its revenue target for the fourth quarter of 2016 and that its chief financial officer was leaving.
“We had a tough time in the fourth quarter,” he said on CNBC. “We were incredibly transparent about it; we have a great logic as to why that happened.”
Part of Under Armour’s logic, as described, in a statement to investors, was that “numerous challenges and disruptions in North American retail,” including bankruptcies of brick-and-mortar sportswear sellers, hindered growth.
“We will address that in 2017,” Plank said. “Wall Street can count on us. They have always been able to count on us. And I think our track record and our history is worth something.”
He’s right about that. Even with an earnings miss at the end of 2016, the South Baltimore firm has averaged 23 percent revenue growth for the last five years. This year’s revenue growth target is much lower, set at around 11 to 12 percent, but the company said in its letter to investors last week it plans to double up investments in products in 2017.
Plank used one of his company’s signed athlete endorsers as an example of why not to bet against his firm. “You know, I think a lot of people bet against Tom Brady the other night, too,” he said.
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