Listed companies buy back shares as gambling stocks stutter

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Public gambling businesses have undertaken a flurry of share buybacks over the past few weeks as stocks across the industry continued to plummet. 

The sector-wide share price downturn has created a sea of red in iGaming-focused investor portfolios, in stark contrast to 2020, when they rode the crest of a wave during Covid-19. 

The dip is due to a combination of factors, including a reality-check Q3 results season and the emergence of the Omicron variant, as well as multiple company-specific headwinds.   

Catena Media, LeoVegas, Kindred Group and GAN have all repurchased their own shares or authorised repurchase schemes between November and December, while Evolution and IGT have also approved larger buyback schemes.

Kindred, Catena Media & LeoVegas

So far in December, it appears several gaming businesses will buy back their own shares as an early Christmas present. 

LeoVegas repurchased a total of 30,000 shares between 29 November and 3 December as part of a broader repurchase programme allowing it to buy back up to 10.2m shares (equal to 10% of the whole business)  up to a maximum value of €10m, prior to its 2022 AGM.

LeoVegas shares have experienced a modest reduction in price compared to many competitors over the past month, having recorded a previous month high of SEK34.90, some 15% ahead of the SEK30.30 price at the time of writing.

Kindred Group, meanwhile, acquired 1.46m of its own shares between 28 October and 30 November, via a buyback programme initiated by its board of directors in July this year.

Kindred said the objective was to return excess cash to shareholders. From the start of the programme, the operator has purchased a total of 3.7m shares at a volume-weighted average price of SEK135.90 per share.

This brings Kindred’s total holding of own shares to 6.5m, or around 2.8% of the company’s 230.1m total issued shares.

Kindred’s share price hit a yearly high of SEK168.90 in September, before taking a sharp nosedive to less than SEK100 per share at the time of writing.

Elsewhere, affiliate business Catena Media has repurchased more than 2.3m of its own shares since September, with a first round taking place between 13 September and 15 October, during which it repurchased 1.5m shares. A second round occured between 17 November and 3 December, during which it repurchased a further 817,700 shares.

The Malta-based firm said buybacks would now cease until the holding company has further distributable profits available. The business currently holds around 3.1% of its own shares.

Currently, Catena’s share price stands at SEK48.71, down more than 30% compared to its price in excess of SEK70 as of mid-November.

GAN

GAN’s board of directors sanctioned a share repurchase programme worth up to $5m last week, allowing the business to buy back its ordinary shares on the Nasdaq Capital Market until 31 May, 2022.

While the authorisation does not oblige GAN to acquire any particular number of shares, CEO Dermot Smurfit said the business can “recognise the value opportunity that has developed in our stock,” adding that the supplier wants “to be prepared to act opportunistically during periods when the share price becomes significantly dissociated from our future earnings potential.”

GAN’s share price began to tumble after the release of its Q3 financial results, which saw revenue fall by 5.8% compared to the same period last year. GAN stock has fallen steadily from more than $14 per share prior to the release of the report in November, to $9.14 today (6 December).

Evolution

On 3 December, Evolution’s board of directors resolved to repurchase shares in the business in accordance with authorisation granted at the supplier’s AGM earlier this year.

Evolution will be permitted to purchase up to 21.5m shares, or 10% of all shares in the company, provided the maximum price paid for the shares does not exceed €200m.

The company said the purpose of acquiring the shares “shall be to optimise and improve the capital structure of the company by reducing the capital, thereby creating added shareholder value.”

In the past month, Evolution’s share price has suffered its most significant downturn since going public. A price of close to SEK1,500 in mid-November has since reduced by around 40% to less than SEK900 per share at the time of writing.

In spite of a Q3 report demonstrating exceptional 97% revenue growth, Evolution’s share price began to see some volatility, which spiked on the release of an anonymously commissioned report into the supplier’s alleged activity in black markets subject to US sanctions. This brought the price crashing down in late November.

Evolution was quick to defend itself against the allegations and a core base of investors remain bullish, with many reading the share buyback as a show of faith in reaction to recent headwinds. 

Some however have described it as a “conservative” move considering Evolution’s market cap. 

IGT

International Game Technology (IGT) announced at its investor day last month that its board of directors had authorised a programme for the repurchase of up to $300m of outstanding ordinary shares for a period of four years, beginning on 18 November.

IGT has also seen its share price reduce over the past month, with a $32.72 monthly high recorded on 10 November reduced by more than 25% to $24.20 at the time of writing, despite a Q3 report showing increased revenues, EBITDA and net profit.

About the author

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Conor Mulheir

Conor entered the gaming industry in 2018 producing high-level live event content for audiences in London, Amsterdam and São Paulo. From 2020, he went on to report news and commission exclusive content for various gaming media brands before joining iGaming NEXT as editor in January 2022.

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