After a week of backlash from shoppers and his company’s most high-profile endorsees, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank clarified his remarks about President Trump and his company’s commitment to equality and diversity in an open letter to Baltimore on Wednesday.
“In a business television interview last week, I answered a question with a choice of words that did not accurately reflect my intent. I want to clarify to our hometown exactly the values for which Under Armour and I stand,” Plank wrote in a letter published as a full-page advertisement in The Baltimore Sun.
In that interview, on CNBC, Planks said Trump is a “pro-business president” and a “real asset for the country.”
Plank, along with several other business leaders, is a member of a task force Trump asked to come up with ways to revitalize domestic manufacturing.
Plank’s comments even led one analyst Wednesday to cut Under Armour’s price target. The CEO’s pro-Trump commentary makes it “nearly impossible to effectively build a cool urban lifestyle brand in the foreseeable future,” Susquehanna International Group analyst Sam Poser said in a report downgrading the stock to negative from neutral. He also cut his stock price target to $14 from $24, putting him at the low end of Wall Street peers.
Plank on Wednesday distanced himself and his company from the Trump administration’s larger policy goals, including banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S.
“We are publicly opposing the travel ban. With an anticipated new executive order on immigration to come out, we will join a coalition of companies in opposition to any new actions that negatively impact our team, their families and our community,” Plank said, adding that Under Armour is taking public positions on legislation around the country “whenever policy conflicts with human rights.”
“Our team, like our country, is diverse by race, religion, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation and point of view. In our city and at Under Armour, our diversity is our strength,” said Plank, echoing sentiments in a statement released by Under Armour the day after Plank’s CNBC appearance that company engages “in policy, not politics.”
Plank and Under Armour faced swift backlash following the CEO’s comments last week. The controversy reached its peak when three of Under Armour’s most high-profile endorsees — NBA star Stephen Curry, ballerina Misty Copeland and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson –released statements critical of the brand and its CEO.
“At this point,” said Poser, the analyst, “we don’t believe Under Armour is in danger of losing Steph Curry. However, it simply cannot be good for business if the face of Under Armour spoke out so pointedly against the CEO’s comments.”
Shares of Under Armour lost 23 percent of their value this year through Tuesday’s close.
In his letter, Plank highlighted Under Armour’s commitment to Baltimore, mentioning the company’s growth in the city, including its recent partnership with the Ravens and Living Classrooms to open UA House at Fayette community center; a Manufacturing Bootcamp at The Foundery in Port Covington and UA Lighthouse, a local manufacturing facility that recently released its first collection.
“In a time of division, we aspire to be a force for unity, growth and optimism for our city and our country. I hope we will always make Baltimore proud,” Plank said.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.