Penn National Split Decision: Ornery Analyst Says ‘Sell’ Internet Meme, Another Says It’s Going to $100

Posted on: October 1, 2020, 10:36h. 

Last updated on: October 1, 2020, 12:05h.

These days, the broad consensus in the analyst community on Penn National Gaming (NASDAQ:PENN) stock is that the name is a “buy.” It’s rare that opinions on the casino firm deviate wildly on the same day.

Pondering Penn National
Traders have a lot to ponder with Penn National, as one analyst rips the name while another says it’s going to $100. (Image: Associated Press)

However, that’s happening today, as Deutsche Bank’s Carlo Santarelli reiterates a “sell” rating on the gaming company, though he did raise his price target on the stock to $31 from $22. That’s a far cry from the bullishness extolled by Union Gaming’s John DeCree, who placed a $100 estimate on the name. DeCree’s Wall Street-high forecast emerges just a day after a counterpart lifted his Penn projection to $90.

Santarelli didn’t hold back in a scathing commentary on Penn stock.

We think PENN has largely benefited from the retail community turning the ticker into an internet meme of sorts, thereby creating momentum in the stock that has attracted institutional investors from verticals outside of the traditional gaming arena,” said the Deutsche Bank analyst.

Santarelli’s call is undoubtedly bold. His $31 price forecast is less than half the Street consensus of almost $68. There’s also some history here.

In June, the analyst issued a “sell” rating on Penn, drawing a stinging online rebuke from Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy. In a viral, expletive-laden rant, Portnoy bashed Santarelli and, on multiple occasions intentionally mispronounced the analyst’s surname.

Penn owns 36 percent of Barstool, a relationship that’s mostly lauded on Wall Street.

Fundamentals Lacking

While Santarelli’s bear rating on Penn could be construed as a case of bad blood, the reality is the analyst isn’t fawning over the prospects of the US iGaming and sports wagering markets. Rather, he sees limited opportunities on those fronts.

As investors realize online casinos and sports betting will have difficulty living up to lofty expectations, Penn stock could be vulnerable to “a considerable contraction,” said the analyst. Enthusiasm for those segments is a primary reason why investors bid the name higher by almost 1,900 percent from its March lows.

“Couple this with a big picture ‘TAM’ story that ‘can’t be disproved’, sprinkle in some slides about Twitter followers and Instagram impressions, and you create a narrative that largely abandons fundamental rationale,” said Santarelli.

The analyst adds investors are likely to be left disappointed upon discovering the amount of sports betting market share that’s readily obtainable for operators.

Bull Call

Obviously, Union Gaming’s DeCree has a different view on Penn. His $100 price target is nearly 50 percent above consensus and implies upside of almost 33 percent from where the stock currently trades. In fact, his outlook runs in the opposite direction of Santarelli’s.

“We contend PENN is one of the best plays for both the COVID reopening trade and long-term total addressable market (TAM) in US iCasino and sports betting,” said DeCree.

The Union Gaming analyst values Penn at a lower multiple than DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG). owing to the latter’s head start in online sports betting. But he says that gap should tighten as Penn “continues to ramp up and execute.”