CEO of Monarch Casino Seeks Acquisitions

Posted on: July 20, 2023, 02:18h. 

Last updated on: July 20, 2023, 02:18h.

Monarch Casino & Resort (NASDAQ: MCRI) is exploring opportunities to expand its portfolio through acquisitions.

Monarch stock
Monarch’s Atlantis Reno. The company is looking for acquisition opportunities. (Image: The Nevada Independent)

Co-Chairman and CEO John Farahi expressed this in the company’s second-quarter earnings press release, released on Wednesday after the US markets closed. Monarch, based in Reno, currently owns the Atlantis in Reno and an eponymous venue in Black Hawk, Colorado.

We continue to consider potential acquisition opportunities where we can use our expertise in development and operations in a financially responsible manner,” said Farahi in the statement.

Farahi did not provide details on specific regions Monarch is considering for expansion or whether the company has engaged in discussions with potential sellers.

Monarch Could Be a Buyer or Seller

Monarch Casino ended the second quarter with $35.1 million in cash. While this is a decent sum for a company with a market capitalization of $1.41 billion, it suggests that the operator may need to issue debt or equity for an acquisition.

The possibility of Monarch striking a deal in the near term cannot be ruled out. However, management is known to be highly selective, which benefits investors. Additionally, the current high interest rate environment is not conducive to debt-driven mergers and acquisitions.

“Management’s strict requirements make executing an acquisition difficult in the current M&A environment, though not impossible. MCRI’s strong balance sheet could present unique buying opportunities in a hypothetical downturn,” wrote Stifel analyst Jeffrey Stantial in a note to clients.

Stantial added that Monarch Casino may be a takeover target due to its “quality assets and unclear long-term succession plans.” He rates the stock as “buy” with a $91 price target, indicating a 30.5% upside from current levels.

Potential Acquisition Targets for Monarch

If Monarch does not want to add properties in the markets it already operates in, the available regions for expansion become limited. This is especially true considering that the company is unlikely to pursue a Las Vegas Strip asset.

“Management is likely to continue targeting underinvested assets in quality markets with stable supply, reasonable tax rates, and local economic growth drivers. These opportunities are limited, and additional opportunities may arise in the event of macroeconomic headwinds,” observed Stantial.

In terms of favorable tax conditions and growing local economies, Northern Nevada and Colorado’s three gaming markets of Black Hawk, Central City, and Cripple Creek are suitable options. These regions also benefit from being located in states with increasing populations, which is important for regional casino operators.

On the other hand, large gaming states like Illinois and Louisiana are experiencing population decline. However, Louisiana benefits from its proximity to Texas, where casino gaming is not permitted.

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