Twin River Quietly Bought Back Stock, Analyst Sees ‘Strong Message’ Sent to Investors, Raises Price Target to $30
Posted on: October 6, 2019, 01:00h.
Last updated on: October 6, 2019, 11:44h.
Amid increasing competition in New England, shares of Twin River Worldwide Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:TRWH) have shed nearly a third of their value since early July. But management has used that decline to buy back stock.
Based on the company’s recently announced quarterly dividend payment of 10 cents a share, which cost the operator of Rhode Island’s two casinos $3.5 million, and a shares outstanding of 34.6 million as of Sept. 30, it looks like Twin River has repurchased approximately 4 million shares of its stock since late July, according to Stifel gaming analyst Brad Boyer.
Ultimately, we believe the repurchase activity should send a strong message to investors as to how management views the current valuation, and we would expect shares to trade higher,” said Boyer in a note provided to Casino.org.
In June, TRWH, which also operates gaming properties in Colorado, Delaware and Mississippi, said it was committing $250 million to paying dividends and a share repurchase program. With Friday’s close at $22.08, the stock yields 0.45 percent.
Regardless of industry or sector, management teams like deployment share buyback plans because it’s a tax-efficient way of returning capital to shareholders. Investors pay taxes on dividends, but not on share repurchases. Additionally, when a company reduces its shares outstanding, its earnings per share increase.
However, historical data indicates companies are often bad at timing their buybacks, opting to skimp on repurchases when their stock is slumping and unveiling large repurchase schemes after the shares have rallied. For example, buyback levels among US companies dwindled in 2008 during the global financial crisis, but have surged in recent years as the bull market has aged.
Said another way, TRWH is the rare example of a company deploying capital for share buybacks amid a slump in its stock price. Over the summer, the stock slid as management acknowledged increasing competition from Wynn Resorts’ Encore Boston Harbor in Everett, Mass. That venue opened in late June.
Last week, Twin River said table game revenue at its eponymous casino in Lincoln, R.I. plunged 40 percent in August, while slot turnover was off 16 percent on a year-over-year basis. In July, the company reported table and slot revenue declines of 34 percent and 17 percent, respectively.
Boyer said TRWH is being hindered by initial trial play at Encore Boston Harbor and elevated promotional activity, which should “gradually taper off, consistent with what we have seen with other new openings.”
Plenty of Firepower
The analyst estimates TRWH has about $171 million left it can use for buybacks and dividends.
“We believe management not only honored its commitment to return capital, but also sent a clear message to investors as to how it views the shares’ current valuation,” said Boyer. “We positively view the buyback activity and expect it to push shares higher.”
Twin River’s buyback sparked more bullishness from Boyer. The Stifel analyst reiterated a “buy” rating on the stock, while boosting his price target on the name to $30, implying upside of about 36 percent from Friday’s close.
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