Boyd Gaming (NYSE:BYD) delivered fourth-quarter earnings Thursday afternoon while offering up 2020 earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization, and restructuring or rent costs (EBITDAR) guidance of $915 million to $935 million.
That forecast was in line with what Wall Street was expecting and without a significant upside surprise. The stock is trading lower by about 1.20 percent at this writing. While the guidance is tepid, at least one analyst likes the 2020 set-up for the operator of The Orleans and Sam’s Town in Las Vegas.
Looking beyond the 2020 guide and the reported results, BYD continues to check all of the boxes as it pertains to what gets us excited in today’s moderate-growth regional gaming landscape,” said Stifel analyst Steven Wieczynski in a note provided to Casino.org.
Among the positive catalysts for Boyd highlighted by Wieczynski are the strong Las Vegas local (LVL) market, the company’s efforts to tidy up its balance sheet, retained ownership of real estate assets, and efficient capital deployment.
Las Vegas-based Boyd, which also operates the Aliante, California, Cannery, Eastside Cannery, Fremont and Suncoast Hotel and Casino, said leverage was 4.7x EBITDAR at the end of 2019, and that it anticipates trimming that number to 4.5x by the middle of 2020. Due to enthusiasm for its downtown offerings, the company is considering a “modest” Fremont Street expansion.
“We are currently evaluating a modest expansion of the Fremont, which has been currently operating at maximum capacity several nights a week throughout the last year,” said CEO Keith Smith on a conference call with analysts. “Spanning this property will allow us to generate incremental growth from a business that has been performing at record levels for several years now.”
Smith added that the company is considering moving its Louisiana riverboat casino – the Treasure Chest – ashore. Regulators there have already approved one such move, and it’s believed more operators are exploring that option because it allows for more gaming space.
With properties in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania in addition to Nevada, Boyd is also a play on the growth of the domestic sports betting market.
“We believe the continued roll-out of sports betting should provide a two-fold benefit for BYD by driving additional foot traffic into its brick and mortar facilities and creating an avenue through which it can generate real EBITDA by way of its relationship with Fan Duel, a company that is quickly emerging as one of the premiere mobile/online sports betting operators,” said Wieczynski.
The Stifel analyst applauded Boyd for its exposure to “stable end markets” and prudent stewardship of capital. Last year, the operator repurchased 1.1 million of its own shares, though it didn’t buy back any stock during the fourth quarter. The company has $72.5 million remaining on its current repurchase program, according to CFO Josh Hirsberg.
Wieczynski believes Boyd can generated $3 per share in free cash flow this year, capital that could be used to reduce debt. The analyst maintains a “buy” rating on the stock, but lifted his price target to $40 from $38, implying upside of 19.5 percent from where it trades at this writing.