Under Armour seeks to move from Nasdaq to Big Board

November 17, 2006|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,Sun reporter

Athletic wear company Under Armour Inc. submitted an application to the New York Stock Exchange yesterday and expects to begin trading on what is considered the world's most prominent bourse next month.

The Baltimore company hopes to make the jump to the NYSE not long after having become a public company. Under Armour has traded on the Nasdaq stock market since Nov. 18 last year. Shares have risen 85 percent from the closing price of $25.30 on the first day of trading. It closed yesterday at $46.25, down 60 cents.

The NYSE application process is largely procedural and appears set for approval. Under Armour has been meeting with exchange executives since late summer when Chief Executive Officer Kevin Plank, Chief Financial Officer Wayne A. Marino and others visited the Wall Street trading floor.

"Under Armour is one of the fastest-growing brands in the world and a market leader in performance athletic apparel - just the type of brand that thrives on the NYSE," John A. Thain, NYSE Group Inc. CEO, said in a statement.

If granted permission, Under Armour expects to begin trading on the NYSE Dec. 18 under the ticker symbol UA. Until then, the company's shares would continue to trade on the Nasdaq under the UARM ticker.

Marino said the Big Board would give the company more visibility among investors and expand its international presence.

"We're a company that has grown from a small-cap company into a global company," Marino said. "Having that visibility on the financial markets will help our potential to expand our investor base. It has the potential to increase our brand's prestige in the foreign markets."

Business analysts said the NYSE carries more stature than the Nasdaq. "You're on the largest capital market in the world," said Richard P. Clinch, director of economic research at the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute.

"The companies are up and coming or a company that has already arrived. It's the most important exchange. It's the one that leads the world."

Clinch also said it's indicative of Under Armour's performance as a company.

"It's a sign of their economic strength, their market strength, their commercial strength," he said. "It's not that easy to get on the New York Stock Exchange."

Marino said part of the application process is picking a trader who will be responsible for moving the company's stock on the floor. He said having a trader will help the company keep better track of its stock. The Nasdaq conducts business electronically and doesn't use floor traders.

"In my position as CFO, getting information about what's going on with your stock is very important," Marino said. "When it does move you want to understand what is making it move. Especially if you don't have an announcement. It is beneficial to have a person you can call directly about trades."

andrea.walker@baltsun.com

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