Braves Postseason Run Pushes Club to Front of Sports Stock Index

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The Atlanta Braves’ unexpected run to the World Series has also led to a run up in its shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market, as the Liberty Media-owned club has seen its stock surge 19% since Oct. 11, the last trading session before the club took the lead in the first round of the MLB Playoffs. The month-end rally helped make the Braves tracking stock one of the best performers of the JohnWallStreet Sports Stock Index, Sportico’s stock market gauge. The Braves (BATRA) gained 14% in October, helping the benchmark 40-stock index gain 2% overall in the month.

The JohnWallStreet Index closed October at 1,723.71, up 30 points. The index is up 21.5% on the year, slightly lagging the S&P 500, which is up 22.6%. The Braves were the best-performing of the teams and league components of the index this month, edging out sister company Formula One (FWONA, up 12%) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, up 9%).

“There are all sort of indications that the Braves are a really well-run team that isn’t fully monetized,” said Matthew Harrigan, an equity analyst at brokerage The Benchmark Company, in a phone call. “They’re probably one of the top three franchises in baseball. The Braves are an unusual instance where you have a very financially savvy owner in Liberty Media—[controlling shareholder] John Malone and [CEO] Greg Maffei—and they’re very competitive on the field.”

In particular, that World Series tickets for Atlanta are reselling for multiples of what they are in Houston is indicative of a fan base that should bolster team revenues next season and beyond, even as the Braves don’t benefit financially from high resale ticket prices themselves. Longer term, the Braves have a television contract due for renewal in 2028 that should provide a significant jump in revenue given the team’s large southeast footprint, Harrigan added.

Team performance certainly hasn’t helped Manchester United (MANU), one of the worst performers in the JohnWallStreet Sports Stock Index in October. The English Premier League fixture surrendered 17%, second-worst in the month, with shares slumping to $16.26 a share. The Red Devils only won one game in October (though on a light schedule, due to breaks for international team play), including getting blown out 5-0 at home by rival Liverpool. The catalyst for the decline is likely off the pitch, however: Shares gapped 14% lower the day Kevin and Edward Glazer of the controlling shareholder family filed to sell 9.5 million shares—about 8% of the family stake—raising about $188 million. The transaction effectively diluted actively traded shares without raising any capital for the club. The Glazers continue to have majority control of the team.

The best-performing stock in the Sportico index in October was Vivid Seats (VIVD), which closed its merger with the Todd Boehly-led special purpose acquisition company Horizon I. Shares of the SPAC traded around the trust value of $10 until the merger closed mid-month, after which Vivid quickly added 37%, to $13.49. Also rallying more than 30% was FuboTV (FUBO), the sports-centric streaming service that has been actively adding sports betting partnerships; Fubo’s sportsbook subsidiary announced a partnership with NASCAR mid-month. Take Two Software (TTWO, up 19%), Nike (NKE, up 14%) and Sports Entertainment (SEAH, up 12%), the SPAC taking sports betting giant Super Group public, round out the top performers in October. Overall, half the 40 stocks in the index advanced in October, with the other 20 declining.

Broadcasters were largely out of favor in the month, with AT&T (T, down 6%), Comcast (CMCSA, down 8%) and ViacomCBS (VIAC, down 9%) all slipping. Sinclair Broadcasting (SBGI) was the worst performer in the index, seeing more than 17% of its value evaporate as its stations were hurt by a cyberattack, a carriage dispute with Dish Network, and a general feeling among some Wall Street analysts that the company faces headwinds creating a cohesive strategy for its regional sports business.

The JohnWallStreet Sports Stock Index is a 40-stock grouping meant to reflect the state of professional sports. The index began August 2020 with a value of 1,000 and is rebalanced quarterly, meaning each stock is reset to 2.5% weighting. To be included in the Sportico index, stocks must be traded in sufficient volume on a U.S. exchange and have a minimum market cap of $50 million. Companies that fail to meet the requirements, experience a significant corporate event (think: bankruptcy, sale) or pivot in strategy away from professional sports may be dropped from the index.

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