As Pro Sports Resume, Penn National Gaming Is a Safe Bet

If you can ignore the humidity and 90-degree temperatures, you can almost convince yourself it’s March and not July. Spring training baseball is restarting and professional basketball and hockey playoffs are around the corner. If you hold Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) stock, these are all good signs.

penn stock
Source: Casimiro PT /

The novel coronavirus disrupted professional and youth sports across the country, with stay-at-home orders and social distancing the flavor of the moment as the health care industry tried to stay ahead of Covid-19 breakouts.

And even as cases are again flaring up across the country, there are definite headwinds for companies like Penn National Gaming, which can soon count on its sports books to once again open.

  • Major League Baseball is looking at a 60-game season with full playoffs. After players are tested for Covid-19 at their home parks, teams are planning a two- to three-week training camp before starting games in late July.
  • The NBA is preparing for a restart in Orlando, Florida, with playoff contenders sequestered and playing the end of the regular season before 16 teams advance to the playoffs.
  • The NHL hasn’t yet announced firm plans but it appears teams will be stationed in Canada for the end of the regular season. Players have yet to vote on the proposal.

And don’t forget about the National Football League, which is expected to start playing in September. Penn just signed a deal with Sportradar that will allow customers to use official NFL play-by-play data for live in-game wagering on its sports betting platforms.

Sports gambling revenues are expected to reach $155 billion by 2024, growing at a neat 8% clip. So, the resumption of professional sports will be a huge benefit to PENN stock.

The Barstool Connection

In February, Penn National Gaming bought a 36% equity position in Barstool Sports, the sports and lifestyle blog, for $163 million. As part of the deal, Barstool will promote Penn National Gaming’s casinos and products for 40 years. Currently Barstool has a following of 66 million monthly unique viewers.

Barstool CEO Erika Nardini says the deal was a natural for Barstool.

They’re the single-largest casino operator in the country. They have an excellent management team. They had a huge vision about taking the Barstool Sports brand and making that their sportsbook brand, whether it’s their app or in their physical sports bars or sportsbooks.

There’s no doubt that the collaboration between Penn National and Barstool will help PENN stock. Even if you don’t live near a Penn National casino, sports bettors know Barstool and its brand. Betting on sports through a Barstool app seems like a no-brainer.

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic meant sports took a back seat for much of 2020, the resumption of professional sports puts the Barstool-Penn partnership back on the map.

PENN Stock at a Glance

Overall, Penn is having a solid year. The stock is up 22% year to date and challenging all-time highs. Three times in the last 18 months, PENN stock neared $40 per share before encountering resistance.

But now that professional sports are restarting and 70% of Penn National Gaming’s casinos have opened their doors, PENN stock may be able to smash through resistance once and for all.

A public offering in May added $300 million in share capital to its balance sheet and $300 million in debt. And while debt levels can be troubling, it’s more interesting that Penn National Gaming saw a 60% increase in revenue growth from 2017 to 2019.

The Bottom Line on PENN Stock

While we can’t project the same kind of rapid growth during a pandemic, Penn National Gaming is bolstering its growth potential with its Barstool partnership and the return of professional sports.

Overall, PENN stock has a “B” grade in my Portfolio Grader, where it carries a buy recommendation.

Louis Navellier had an unconventional start, as a grad student who accidentally built a market-beating stock system — with returns rivaling even Warren Buffett. In his latest feat, Louis discovered the “Master Key” to profiting from the biggest tech revolution of this (or any) generation. Louis Navellier may hold some of the aforementioned securities in one or more of his newsletters.

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