Signage is displayed on the exterior of Madison Square Garden Co. venue in New York City.

Madison Square Garden beats estimate

By Richard Foster-Shelton

Medill Reports

Madison Square Garden Co. (NYSE:MSG), based in New York City, reported healthy increases in revenues and net income, exceeding analysts’ expectations, for the second quarter ended Dec. 31.

Helped by a tax benefit, the company reported net income of $189.6 million, or $7.96 per diluted share, up from $57.7 million, or $2.39 per share, in the year-earlier quarter. Analysts estimated $2.01 per share.

The second quarter net income included a non-cash income tax benefit of $113.5 million, which the company said will reduce net deferred tax liabilities.

Excluding the tax benefit, adjusted income was $3.23 per diluted share, up from $2.39 in the prior-year quarter. Analysts estimated $2.05 per diluted share.

The sports and entertainment holding company, owner of the Chicago Theatre and a number of other venues in Las Vegas and other cities, generated revenues of $536.3 million, a 20 percent increase from the $445.2 million in the same quarter the previous year. Analysts estimated $523.1 million.

The company’s six-month revenue total was $781.3 million, up 25 percent from $626.9 million at the same point last year. Net income was $178.5 million, or $7.50 per diluted share, compared with $29.1 million, or $1.20 per share. MSG’s six-month adjusted EPS was $2.61, up 117 percent from $1.20 in the period a year earlier.

MSG stock closed at $220.69, up $2.94.

During a conference call, Vice Chairman Gregg G. Seibert said, “We delivered strong year-over-year growth…as our focus on providing the very best and live experiences continues to create value for our shareholders.”

The rise in revenue was attributed to MSG Entertainment, which rose 41 percent to $271.2 million from $192.5 million. MSG Executive Chairman and CEO Jim Dolan said the growth was “fueled by our continued focus on providing the very best in live experiences. Our performance this quarter was highlighted by strong bookings result, record revenue for the Christmas Spectacular and broad-based growth across our Sports segment.”

The growth in MSG Entertainment’s revenue is partly explained by the acquisitions of TAO Group, Counter Logic Gaming and Obscura Digital, all acquired after the year-ago second quarter.

Looking to the future, Dolan said the company remains “confident” in its ability to deliver attractive long-term growth but Bloomberg industry analyst Joshua Yatskowitz isn’t so sure. In a report posted on Bloomberg.com, Yatskowitz said that a shift “away from season passes to pricier individual tickets should lift revenue” at MSG, which hosts the NBA’s Knicks and the NHL’s Rangers, but it exposes MSG to risk if the teams lose popularity.”

Photo at top: Signage is displayed on the exterior of Madison Square Garden Co. venue in New York City. (Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images)