Sports teams and leagues led the JohnWallStreet Sports Stock Index to its second straight outperformance of the S&P 500, even as a volatile market dragged both the broad market and the sports index lower in September.
Sportico’s benchmark sports stock index declined 2.5% in the month, finishing at 1,693.74—a level that still means sports shares are up 19.4% year-to-date. The broad market, meanwhile, slid 4.8% in a volatile September that saw growth stocks whipsawed by fears over inflation and planned cutbacks in asset purchases the Federal Reserve Bank has used to support financial markets since the mortgage crisis of 2008. Still, the S&P is up 14.7% in 2021. The JohnWallStreet Sports Stock Index has beaten the S&P five of nine months this year.
The sports index gains came primarily from live sports in September. U.S.-listed Manchester United (MANU) added more than 10%, as the team disclosed a 140% spike in broadcast revenue, to the equivalent of $54 million, in its fourth quarter ended June. The presence of fans in English Premier League stadiums this season, plus fan favorite Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford, also boosted sentiment. Ultimate Fighting Championship parent Endeavor Holdings (EDR), gained more than 12%, mostly due to its plan to purchase OpenBet, the sports betting technology business from Scientific Games (SGMS), itself an index member and the biggest gainer at 14.5%. Churchill Downs (CHDN), the owner of the Kentucky Derby, rallied more than 14% with the company is benefiting from a $500 million stock-buyback plan and a cash infusion from a planned sale of its suburban Chicago racetrack to the Chicago Bears.
World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, up 8.6%), the playoff-bound Atlanta Braves (BATRA, up 3.1%), Knicks and Rangers owner MSG Sports (MSGS, up 4.4%), and auto racing's Formula One (FWONA, up 3.7%) also were among the leaders in the month. Overall, 17 of the sports index’s 40 components rose in September.
Investors reacted poorly to DraftKings’ (DKNG) $20 billion bid for U.K.-based Entain, with shares immediately plunging on the plan and surrendering 20% of their value to close out the month. DraftKings is offering $9 billion more than the offer Entain rejected from MGM Resorts (MGM) at the start of the year. MGM issued a statement saying any deal involving U.S. operations needs its consent, since it and Entain are 50-50 partners on BetMGM. “While DKNG could then leapfrog to become the world’s largest operator, we see potentially intractable governance hurdles with BetMGM,” said stock analyst Tuna N. Amobi in a research note from CFRA. “We think the unexpected news underscores the potential land grab in the nascent online sports betting market, as some of the key players jostle for further scale on the heels of legalization across U.S. jurisdictions.”
Other sports stocks were down, on general rotation away from growth and toward value stocks, a defensive move in an uncertain stock market environment. That clipped shares of Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment (HOFV, down 20%), FuboTV (FUBO, down 13%) and Penn National Gaming (PENN, down 11%), among other decliners.
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.
As part of this quarter’s rebalancing, two new stocks are being added to the index and two dropped. Sports data and analytics firm Sportradar (SRAD) joins the Sportico index after its September IPO, valuing the business at $8 billion. Rush Street Interactive (RSI), a gambling business with a strong emphasis on sports betting, also joins the index. Being dropped this quarter is Mudrick Acquisition II (MUDS), the SPAC that had an agreement to bring trading card giant Topps public. That deal was scuttled just days ahead of a shareholder vote, after Fanatics struck a deal with MLB and the MLBPA for baseball cards and other collectibles. The Mudrick SPAC isn’t specifically a sports-focused vehicle, and the more than 150 active sports-related SPACs and their $47 billion in committed or proposed capital are represented in the index by RedBall (RBAC), as well as three pending SPAC mergers.
Score Media & Gaming (SCR) is leaving the index as a result of its pending acquisition by Penn National. Penn is paying $2 billion for the Toronto-based company to gain a foothold in Canada’s sports betting market. As of mid-August, sports wagering is no longer federally illegal in Canada.
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.