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Under Armour

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That brings us to Under Armour (UA), a sporting apparel brand that's seen its shares sprinting in 2012; so far this year, UA has rallied more than 35%, besting the S&P by a factor of three. Unique brand-positioning should help to keep UA's trajectory on track in the next few months.

Under Armour has carved out an attractive niche in the sportswear business, standing out as the technology leader. Rather than trying to compete directly with the brand cachet of Nike (NKE), UA's performance apparel instead catered to athletes looking for clothing that would regulate body temperature and wick perspiration away from their bodies. While UA's offerings have expanded dramatically from those first successes, the firm still owns that space in consumers' minds.

Without the budget to compete with bigger sportswear brands, UA went guerilla in its marketing, instead opting to grab endorsement deals with up-and-comers rather than athletes who were already superstars. That policy generated high returns for UA, and while the ad and sponsorship budget has grown, the firm has done a good job of making the most of its promotions.

With only around 10% of sales coming from outside the U.S., there's still plenty of growth room for Under Armour right now. Investors will want to see management continue to avoid throwing cash around to achieve it.

Under Armour is one of the top holdings at Steven Cohen's SAC Capital, which scooped up 1.35 million shares of the stock in the fourth quarter.

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