Century Casinos Could Shop for Regional Gaming Assets in 2021

Posted on: November 8, 2020, 01:50h. 

Last updated on: November 8, 2020, 02:26h.

Century Casinos (NASDAQ:CNTY), a small gaming company with a history of successful bolt-on acquisitions, could be on the hunt for deals in 2021. It will be seeking prospects in what could be, as described by one company executive, a brisk environment for industry consolidation.

Century Casinos
Century Casinos co-CEO Peter Hoetzinger, left, and other executives ring the bell at the Nasdaq market site earlier this year. He says the company could be looking for deals. (Image: Colorado Springs Gazette)

Colorado-based Century operates 11 casinos, including a pair in its home state, Missouri, and West Virginia, as well as some international venues. Its Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort in West Virginia and the Isle Casino Cape Girardeau and Lady Luck Casino — both in Missouri — were purchased from Eldorado Resorts in 2019, confirming Century’s penchant for smaller but accretive transactions.

We’ve now shown that we can successfully negotiate contract, close, and then integrate a large transaction,” said co-CEO Peter Hoetzinger on the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call last week. “And so I think that makes us a good buyer for some more of these mid-size assets and so, yes, we are out looking already, so I think next year will be a very, very busy M&A situation in the US.”

In a rarity in the gaming industry this year, Century’s third-quarter operating revenue and earnings surged 81 percent and 331 percent, respectively, with the operator directly citing the Mountaineer Casino and the two Show-Me State properties as reasons for the profit beat. That while scores of larger rivals are reporting significant losses for the July through September period.

Century Deal-Making Prospects

Century, which is regarded by some analysts as potentially the next big winner among gaming equities, is likely to pursue smaller regional assets that are falling through the cracks at larger competitors.

Hoetzinger points out that some regional operators are getting bigger and “are somewhat less interested in some of the properties that would be very important for us.” The executive didn’t identify specific regions in which it could hunt for purchases, nor did he mention individual companies from which Century could acquire venues.

As of Sept. 30, the company has $62.1 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $184.1 million in outstanding debt.

Assuming it adds financing via capital markets, Century is unlikely to go shopping in a market like Las Vegas. But with gaming property values depressed in other regions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there should be a buffet of choices for the company to choose from.

Other Moves in the Offing

Earlier this year, Century won praise for selling its namesake venue in Calgary, Canada for $7.5 million. The company still owns the real estate, but Hoetzinger said the plan is to eventually sell that land.

The operator also holds stakes in nine Poland properties, and its European operations now account for four percent of overall earnings, before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), indicating that could be a chip Century redeems to fund deals elsewhere.

“So that has moved to a very interesting and important part of our business a couple of years ago to being in non-core. And therefore, you may assume that we are thinking of trying to get a good deal for these assets in Poland,” said Hoetzinger.