Baron Growth Fund on Penn National Gaming (PENN): “We View the Valuation as Attractive”

Baron Funds, an asset management firm, published its “Baron Growth Fund” second quarter 2021 investor letter – a copy of which can be downloaded here. A quarterly return of 7.80% was delivered by the fund’s institutional shares for the Q2 of 2021, outperforming its primary benchmark, the Russell 2000 Growth Index, which rose to 4.88%, but below the S&P 500 Index that delivered an 8.55% return for the same period. You can take a look at the fund’s top 5 holdings to have an idea about their top bets for 2021.

In the Q2 2021 investor letter of Baron Funds, the fund mentioned Penn National Gaming, Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) and discussed its stance on the firm. Penn National Gaming, Inc. is a Wyomissing, Pennsylvania-based casino company with a $12.7 billion market capitalization. PENN delivered a -6.01% return since the beginning of the year, while its 12-month returns are up by 40.13%. The stock closed at $81.54 per share on August 30, 2021.

Here is what Baron Funds has to say about Penn National Gaming, Inc. in its Q2 2021 investor letter:

Penn National Gaming, Inc., a regional U.S. casino operator, detracted on news that the company had lost sports betting and i-gaming market share in both Michigan and Pennsylvania. While the lost market share is a disappointment, Penn has been able to maintain a double-digit share with no marketing. We believe the market is attributing little value to Penn’s Barstool equity stake as well as its online gaming and sports betting opportunities including its access fees from other operators. We view the valuation as attractive.”

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Based on our calculations, Penn National Gaming, Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) was not able to clinch a spot in our list of the 30 Most Popular Stocks Among Hedge Funds. PENN was in 40 hedge fund portfolios at the end of the first half of 2021, compared to 42 funds in the previous quarter. Penn National Gaming, Inc. (NASDAQ: PENN) delivered a 0.25% return in the past 3 months.

Hedge funds’ reputation as shrewd investors has been tarnished in the last decade as their hedged returns couldn’t keep up with the unhedged returns of the market indices. Our research has shown that hedge funds’ small-cap stock picks managed to beat the market by double digits annually between 1999 and 2016, but the margin of outperformance has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, we were still able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that outperformed the S&P 500 ETFs by 115 percentage points since March 2017 (see the details here). We were also able to identify in advance a select group of hedge fund holdings that underperformed the market by 10 percentage points annually between 2006 and 2017. Interestingly the margin of underperformance of these stocks has been increasing in recent years. Investors who are long the market and short these stocks would have returned more than 27% annually between 2015 and 2017. We have been tracking and sharing the list of these stocks since February 2017 in our quarterly newsletter.

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Disclosure: None. This article is originally published at Insider Monkey.