Gambling companies like Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) stock have been left in ruins, with Lady Luck nowhere to be found.
In fact, thanks to the novel coronavirus, casino stocks like PENN hemorrhaged cash instead of raking it in. MGM Resorts (NYSE:MGM) was reportedly losing up to $14.4 million a day. Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) lost up to $3.2 million a day, says Best Casinos’ contributor James Murray.
Long-term investors didn’t fare much better. Since the chaos began, Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS) slipped from a high of $70 to a current price of about $48. Caesars Entertainment (NASDAQ:CZR) fell from $14.60 to a current price of about $11. Boyd Gaming fell from $35 to near $20.
But with economies starting to reopen, now may be the perfect time to dig for diamonds in the rough. One of the stocks to consider is Penn National, whose stock recovered from low of $3.75 to nearly $30 per share. If the U.S. economy can successfully reopen, PENN stock could revisit highs of nearly $40.
Long-Term Growth is Intact
Like most casinos, Penn National Gaming had a tough first quarter, said President and CEO Jay Snowden.
“Penn National saw a phenomenal start to 2020, with record results in January and February. Our Company was performing well ahead of guidance in every segment, driven in large part by the introduction of retail sports betting at several properties, which has served as a catalyst for both gaming and non-gaming revenue. We also saw a strong positive reaction, including our stock price hitting an all-time high, following the announcement of our strategic investment in Barstool Sports.”
Unfortunately, growth was cut short in March 2020 thanks to the coronavirus, which required closure. As a result, first-quarter revenues fell $166.5 million year over year to $1.12 billion. Penn National Gaming also saw a loss of $608.6 million, as compared to a profit of $41 million in the first quarter of 2019.
But as Snowden added, “The company’s long-term growth strategy remains intact” as the company moves forward with projects like its Barstool Sports app.
Barstool Sports App Could Be Worth Millions
With torpedoed results, Penn National Gaming took a 36% stake in Barstool Sports for $163 million in cash and stock to help grow its sports betting and entertainment offering. By 2023, the company could pay another $62 million to increase its stake to 50%.
This is great news for Penn National Gaming for two reasons. One, at the moment, Barstool has an audience of 66 million and growing. Better still, Barstool views on social media have already soared 50% since April 2020, a sign of an engaged audience.
“Penn will have its Barstool (sports betting) app running by the third quarter,” said Macquarie’s Chad Beynon, “and we believe the app (and the Barstool) database can be worth $10 to $25 per share of equity over time.”
In addition, we have to realize that legal sports betting is a big multibillion-dollar business. In fact, according to the American Gaming Association’s Research on Sports Betting, “Our research showed sports betting, if available online and reasonably taxed, could have an impact of $41.2 billion annually.”
Plus, nearly 40% of U.S. adults are currently betting on sports.
Nevada Approves Casino Reopening Plans
Boosting the sector even more was the Nevada Gaming Commission approving guidelines to reopen Las Vegas again soon.
Under new guidelines, casinos will be limited to 50% occupancy. Conventions will be limited to 250 people. Restaurants will have limited seating and allow for appropriate distancing. Seating at table games will be limited as well. With blackjack, for example, seating will be limited to three players. Chairs will only be permitted at every other slot machine, too.
While there’s not a defined timeline for reopening, at least they’ll reopen sooner than later.
While it won’t be business as usual for quite some time, we are beginning to see big signs of recovery. From here, I strongly believe now is the best time to buy down-but-not-out casino stocks like Penn National Gaming.
Ian Cooper, an InvestorPlace.com contributor, has been analyzing stocks and options for web-based advisories since 1999. As of this writing, Ian Cooper did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.