PENN Entertainment jumps as BofA upgrades on ESPN Bet success

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PENN Entertainment jumps as BofA upgrades on ESPN Bet success
Credit: © Reuters.

Shares of PENN Entertainment (PENN) rose 4.6% in early trading Monday after BofA Securities upgraded the stock on the early success of ESPN Bet.

Analysts upgraded shares to Buy from Neutral and raised their price target to $30 from $27. The new price target offers over 22% upside from Friday's closing price.

"We think ESPN Bet creates an asymmetric risk-reward, with 1) initial download and app activity much stronger than anticipated, 2) initial offers showing promotional discipline, and 3) stable Q3 earnings (see report) being better than expected for PENN’s core gaming business," the analysts commented.

They highlighted that ESPN Bet has surged ahead in initial downloads and rankings, solidifying its reach among customers. Since last Tuesday, it's consistently held the top #1 or #2 spot among free iOS apps, amassing 865,000 downloads and maintaining an impressive 4.8 rating on the app store. Remarkably, this has been achieved even before the NFL Sunday data has been factored in.

"While skepticism centered on ESPN’s support of the launch (vs. co- marketing deals with CZR/DKNG), we see encouraging signs with full-screen takeovers on the app/web and early content mentions," the analysts added.

Still, from the analysts' perspective, PENN still has to demonstrate and enhance three key areas: 1) its ability to retain users, 2) its technological infrastructure and breadth of market offerings (including stability during in-game experiences, diverse player proposition bets, and features like dark mode), and 3) its foothold in various states, especially New York.

Nevertheless, it's a promising beginning, they said. The analysts project a 6-7% share in the online sports betting (OSB) space, aligned with PENN's initial expenditure that could equate to roughly a 10% share. Each 1% increase in market share translates to an approximate $2 increase in PENN's stock value, they added.

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