After years of faltering interest, it seems that the appeal in golf is picking up again. Viewership of the 2015 Masters tournament was even up 26% this year. After years of declining golf trends, more affordable in-town destinations might set the trend to bring in more young golfers in the years ahead.
In a report issued earlier this week, the analysts at Jefferies have latched on to a top golf equipment stock — Callaway Golf Co. (NYSE: ELY). The firm issued a Buy rating, but what stands out is that Jefferies has a $16 price target. This would imply upside of more than 60%, if the firm is correct. That put Jefferies as the highest analyst price target, and well above the consensus price target of $11.38 (and the median target is $10.00). Jefferies sees a hidden asset here that may even drive special situation investors to the company.
While this call is longer term and not just around earnings, note that earnings are due to be released on Thursday, April 23. That means that investors who do not like volatility may want to reconsider this call after the report, rather than jumping into an unknown immediate event.
For those who play and love golf, from the 25 handicap to the scratch golfer, equipment is the name of the game. The companies that make the top equipment stand to benefit as interest in the game picks up again. In fact, saying that golf trends had been slow might be words of kindness.
Callaway Golf has evolved over time from a manufacturer of golf clubs to one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of a full line of golf equipment and accessories. The company designs, manufactures and sells high-quality golf clubs, golf balls, golf bags and other golf-related accessories. Callaway designs its products to be technologically advanced and invests a considerable amount in research and development each year.
Plain and simple, the Jefferies analysts feel that Callaway is poised for a very powerful comeback. From the company that revolutionized the oversized driver with the Big Bertha over 20 years ago, the analysts are predicting strong market share gains, as well as margin improvements driven by the strong product line.
The somewhat hidden asset in Callaway’s long-term value is its minority ownership in TopGolf International. Jefferies feels the market is severely undervaluing this asset, and it even feels that the ownership stake in TopGolf could be worth as much as $3 to $5 per share on a standalone basis. TopGolf International is a sports entertainment facility headquartered in Dallas, Texas, with locations throughout the United States and England, and it is growing hyper-fast. TopGolf may also be one of the top drivers rekindling interest in golf with younger players.
TopGolf features a golf game that uses microchip technology inside golf balls that are shot into several targets with real clubs to score points. Players tee off from a driving bay onto a landscaped outfield with targets ranging in distance from 20 to 250 yards. Players receive instant feedback on how far they have hit a shot and are allocated points based on distance and accuracy. It has fun and challenging games for golfers of all skill levels. They also offer food and drinks and have a huge aggressive expansion plan underway.
Again, investors who do not like event-risk might want to consider this a longer-term view. Jefferies seems to be highlighting the long-term potential here after years of subdued share performance.