Shares in sportswear firm Under Armour climbed nearly 12% on the New York Stock Exchange today (23 January), on the back of strong analyst reports.

The company's share price has increased 11.71% this morning, to $31.29, with analysts backing Under Armour to deliver sales and earnings growth in the second half of the year, despite a projected slow start to 2008.

Susquehanna International Group said in a research note: "In our opinion, Under Armour is one of the fastest growing brands in the athletic marketplace today, and is well-positioned for substantial further sales and earnings growth opportunities in the performance apparel and footwear product categories, as well as meeting international demand for these same

"We believe the company's high current market share positions in the US performance apparel sector, and large sales growth rates, will likely continue to make Under Armour the premier player in the overall performance apparel marketplace."

At the same time though, some analysts issued caution about the strength of competition Under Armour faced, including Nike and Adidas. In addition, Susquehanna remained cautious about the company's near-term performance, awaiting consumer and retailer reaction to its upcoming spring 2008 cross-trainer footwear launch.

Susquehanna analyst John Shanley told just-style this afternoon (23 January) that the company was looking to boost its presence in Europe, and in particular the UK, over the next year.

Domestically, he said that the company would look to grow market share by increasing marketing expenditure and add to its 15 outlet stores, with around six or seven new ones in 2008. 

The company's shares tumbled last Thursday, when it announced forecast first half diluted EPS of US$0.03-0.05, well down on analyst expectations.

An increased marketing spend, especially on the forthcoming Superbowl, had pulled down on the EPS forecast.

Under Armour's full year 2007 net revenues are now expected to rise 40% to an estimated $605m, ahead of previous guidance of $590-600m, the company said last week.

Income should exceed previous estimates of $81.5-83m, it added, yielding diluted EPS of $1.03-1.04.

Under Armour is due to report its fourth quarter and full year results on 31 January.

By Joe Ayling.