Missed golf putt costs sponsor €128m

Stock markets and their fascination with sports stars was thrown into sharp focus when a missed putt by US golfer Jordan Spieth led to a shares rout that wiped $140m (€128.6m) off the value of his clothing sponsor, Under Armour.

Missed golf putt costs sponsor €128m

At the British Open on Monday, a matter of inches separated Mr Spieth and a shot at winning an incredible third major title. That spurred investors – many of whom bought shares in the US clothing firm in anticipation of a potential win – to offload their stock.

Shares in Under Armour fell from $89.46 on the New York Stock Exchange to $88.79 minutes after the missed putt.

“I think what’s really indicative of the importance of sports people to their brand is the immediacy of what you can see on the stock price. There was a major increase [in Under Armour stock price] the week prior and then you see this drop-off,” Apex Marketing’s Eric Smallwood said.

“It’s taking it from the golf course to the boardroom in a very smooth manner and very much on happenstance. Stocks are normally going to fluctuate based on earnings and those kinds of things but these fluctuations are based on exposure and popularity,” he said.

While eye-watering on the face of it, the 67c decrease in Under Armour’s shares won’t have made much of a difference to the Baltimore-headquartered company given its $19bn (€17.48bn) valuation and the value Mr Spieth’s golfing success has delivered this year.

, The company’s shares closed up 2.58%, or $2.16, over the course of the Masters which the Texan golfer won in April. His next major victory two months later saw a $2.21 increase during the US Open between June 18 and June 22.

Despite missing out on the British Open – and clearing $140m off Under Armour’s valuation in a matter of minutes – the competition still delivered a boost with shares opening at $86.95 on the first day of the competition and closing at $88.95 on Monday – an increase of 2.29% on the back of the increased focus on Mr Spieth.

Monday’s share sell-off was highly unusual, Mr Smallwood said, as the US stock markets were open during the competition, which usually finishes on Sunday evening.

“The stake in an individual is far higher than it is for stars of team sports which often represent multiple brands and are reliant on the team as a whole. There’s a much greater return from golf and tennis players for example but also a greater risk. If a player underperforms or misbehaves there is a risk of the brand being damaged,” according to Sport For Business chief executive, Rob Hartnett.

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