Manchester United’s (NYSE: MANU) largest shareholder, BAMCO, Inc, has blamed the soccer club’s transfer policy on the stock slump, reports Manchester Evening News.
According to the asset manager, the decline in the soccer club’s fortunes on the New York Stock Exchange has been as a result of the “recent poor investments in players and personnel.” BAMCO, Inc owns approximately 32.44% of the listed Class A shares at Manchester United. This is about 13,161,086 shares. At the prevailing stock price of $16.87, the stake is worth about $222 million.
Since the end of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign at Manchester United, the number of signings that have disappointed could constitute a team. Under current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Brazilian Fred Rodrigues easily tops the list. The midfielder who was signed from Shakhtar Donetsk has underwhelmed at Old Trafford, proving unworthy of the $67.3 million investment.
Though he was signed under Jose Mourinho, Romelu Lukaku’s form fell after his first performance. By the time Solskjaer stepped in as manager, the striker who initially cost Manchester United nearly $100 million failed to easily find takers. He was eventually loaned to Inter Milan.
Other ‘poor investments’ that Manchester United has made since the exit of Ferguson include Angel Di Maria. The winger who cost the soccer club $77 million in 2014 turned out to be an expensive error. He was eventually shipped to Paris Saint-Germain.
The list of expensive errors is also not complete without mentioning Alexis Sanchez. The Chilean forward scored five goals in 45 appearances for Manchester United. That translates to just one goal in nine appearances, a dismal record for anyone putting on the No. 7 shirt.
So far this year, the stock price has declined by 23% from the yearly high of $21.92 recorded in February. The stock is also down 40% from the all-time high of $27.70 registered last year in August.
In a letter sent to investors in BAMCO, Inc mid this year, the asset manager expressed faith in the club that it refers to as the “New York Yankees of soccer.” Baron Funds, of which BAMCO is a part, stated:
“We believe the company’s private market value is probably 50-to-100 times higher than the price of its shares.”
Another shareholder letter sent at the end of this year’s first quarter also emphasized the upside potential of Manchester United’s stock:
“[Upscale] lodging brand Hyatt Hotels Corp., and storied English Premier League sports franchise Manchester United plc are all examples of companies we believe possess meaningful brand equity and barriers to entry in their businesses that equate to pricing power over time.”
The stock slump is coming despite the soccer club registering record revenues for fiscal 2019. In late September, Manchester United revealed revenues had come in at $781.3 million. The operating profit, on the other hand, came in at $62 million.
However, the record figure for revenues will not be challenged this year. This is because revenues will fall due to the club’s non-participation in the prestigious UEFA Champions League. The club only qualified for the less financially rewarding Europa League.
And as if to prove BAMCO right, the fiscal 2019 results showed wages rose by 12%. This was as performance on the pitch was succumbing to the rules of gravity.