Manchester United PLC (NYSE: MANU), the 19-time English Premier League soccer champion, has an average fair value estimate of $17 per share on the strength of its 659 million fans and distribution deals, according to five analyst reports released Tuesday. The estimate is $3 above Manchester United's August IPO price of $14.
"We view Manchester United as a key beneficiary of the changing media world where advertisers are willing to pay up for content and want to associate with powerful brands that are recognized globally," wrote Randal Konik, an analyst with Manchester's lead underwriter Jefferies Group Inc. (NYSE:JEF), in a research note.
He cited the team's large fan base and the popularity of soccer (or football, as it is known outside the U.S.). Konick rated the stock a buy and priced the stock at $20, the highest value among analysts on Tuesday.
Nomura Equity Research (NYSE: NMR), which was a book runner for the IPO, issued the most cautious report. It was the only group among Tuesday's five researchers to rate the stock "neutral" rather than "buy" and had the lowest price target of $13. The Japanese bank said the team would have to spend a significant chunk of its cash on player salaries.
"We remain cautious about the potential of greater-than-expected player cost inflation and valuation," wrote Nomura analyst Michael Nathanson.
Manchester stocks fell to $13.30 per share at Friday's close. It was down 8 cents, or 0.60 percent, to $13.22 in late Tuesday afternoon trading.
In July, Forbes Magazine ranked Manchester as the world's most valuable sports team, with an estimated worth of $2.23 billion. The British Premier League also announced a $4.8 billion deal for broadcast rights over the next three years.
Manchester United went public in July under the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, which allowed IPO underwriters to issue research reports without delays.
Malcolm Glazer, president and CEO of holding company First Allied Corp., which has stakes in food services, real estate and commodities, controls Manchester United and the Tampa Bay Buccaners football team.
In May, Manchester United lost the previous season's championship match for the Premier League title, falling to regional rival Manchester City.