We try as best we can to keep our Baltimore City Power Rankings fresh, but the down arrow for Under Armour that came out today already feels out of date as the athletic apparel company continues to rack up bad press.
UA's last week or so has been pretty brutal, in fact. Here's a rundown.
- After falling short of sales and revenue forecasts, Under Armour's stock tumbled 25 percent on Jan. 31. The company's CFO stepped down, but as CNN notes, "Wall Street often assumes that an executive leaving for 'personal reasons' is a sign that a company is in trouble and that someone needs to take the fall." Websites dedicated to the market and analysts have been hashing out the future of the stock ever since. Here's a sampling: "Under Armour Inc (UA) Bit Off Way More Than It Can Chew," according to InvestorPlace; "Under Armour Stock Is In Serious Trouble," says Motley Fool; "Stick With Under Armour? Really?" asks Barron's.
To be fair, there was also a bullish writer at InvestorPlace, who offered this ringing endorsement, "Under Armour Inc (UAA) Stock Looks Terrible — Time to Buy!"
Some seem to agree: shares went up 3 percent in today's trading.
The next day, Standard & Poor's downgraded Under Armour's credit rating to junk. Ouch.
- On Friday, The Sun published a story about Councilman Ryan Dorsey being "under fire" for his comments in the Facebook group Baltimore City Voters that likened Port Covington, Under Armour's future headquarters by the sea, to white supremacist policy, and that UA's Kevin Plank agreeing to work with President Donald Trump amounted to "white supremacy cozying up to white supremacy."
Mayor Catherine Pugh, City Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young, and Councilman Eric Costello, whose district contains UA's current headquarters and future one, all weighed in with their disappointment.
When Costello went over to the Facebook group to demand an apology, he instead got a ton of pushback in support of Dorsey.
All of this is a little political inside baseball, but it did force Tom Geddes, CEO of Plank Industries, to defend his boss' record. "Kevin Plank's commitment to Baltimore is second to none," he said in a statement to the paper. "He is proud to grow Under Armour here and to continue his significant personal investments and philanthropic contributions to this great City."
Naturally, the incident also showed that plenty of people are still not pleased the city is kicking in $660 million for UA's shiny new digs.
- Dorsey responded on Monday, refusing to back down and offering a clear, measured walk-through of how Plank working with Trump goes against the interests of majority-black city like Baltimore, and how Port Covington's inclusionary housing agreement benefits few of the people it puportedly aims to support.
That spread all throughout social media too, with many of the posts and tweets couched in anti-Port Covington sentiments.
- On Tuesday, Morgan State University professory Lawrence Brown (who has written in CP in the past) and dozens of co-signers published an op-ed in The Sun asserting that "Ryan Dorsey has nothing to apologize for."
"It is the defenders of white supremacy, our profit-maximizing white business interests and regressive black political elite class who should be the ones apologizing," it reads, in part. "They should be apologizing for doing nothing of note to stop the intensification of racial segregation and racial wealth inequity."
The TIF for Port Covington, they conclude, "doubles down on the segregation that was and remains a root cause of racial inequity."
- On the heels of all of this, Plank praised the president as "an asset to the country" after a White House meeting to discuss manufacturing, along with other major CEOs.
"He wants to build things," Plank said afterward in an interview with CNBC. "He wants to make bold decisions and be really decisive."
"I'm a big fan," he continued, "of people that operate in the world of 'publish and iterate' versus 'think, think, think, think, think', so there's a lot that I respect there."
The backlash was swift, including a GQ post that splayed Under Armour's logo over The Donald's face. Unsurprisingly, many here in Baltimore turned this around as yet another critique of the Port Covington TIF.
- Earlier today, Under Armour released a statement clarifying Plank's remarks, including a support for an "inclusive immigration policy," an apparent rebuff of Business Insider's interpretation that Plank was in favor of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
"We engage in policy, not politics," it says. "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."
Whew. And it's only Wednesday—who knows what Thursday and Friday will bring. Just a guess, but I imagine Under Armour is ready to talk about something else.