Manchester United PLC (MANU): Ten Thousand Times Better Than the Green Bay Packers

On Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, the Green Bay Packers lost their chance at the Super Bowl. Playing before a sellout crowd at Candlestick Park against the San Francisco 49ers, the Packers gave up a playoff record 579 total yards, succumbing to a team that went on to claim the NFC Championship but eventually lost the Super Bowl to the Baltimore Ravens at an eventful game in New Orleans.

Three months later and an ocean away, another “football” team, British soccer club Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU), had a different story to tell. On Monday, April 22, 2013, Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) claimed their 20th league title, beating Aston Villa 3-0 to win the English Premier League Championship .

Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) now enters the hunt for a place in next season’s European Champions League, while the Packers must go back to the drawing board, and start again at 0-0 in the race for Super Bowl XLVIII. That fact alone tells you why Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) is probably a better “football” team than the Packers.

But here’s the real revelation: Manchester United is also a better investment than the Packers.

Football fans vs. profits fanatics
That’s right. Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) and the Green Bay Packers aren’t just “football teams” that you can cheer for. They’re also “companies” that you can invest in. But they’re very different kinds of companies.

You may recall how, Green Bay announced in December of 2011 that it was opening up its team to new buyers, offering to sell up to 880,000 Packers shares to the public for $250 apiece. Well, less than a year later, Man Utd decided to open itself up to public ownership as well, holding an initial public offering of its stock at an offer price of $14 a share.

Eight months later, those Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) shares sell for nearly $18 apiece — a 28% gain. Not bad … but get a load of how Packers shares have performed. Since their third public offering back in 1950, shares of the Packers have increased in price 10,000 times, from a split-adjusted price of $0.025 per share, to the 2011 asking price of $250. That looks like a pretty hefty profit. It looks like the Packers are outperforming Man Utd.

But looks can be deceiving.

The problem with Packers, according to its prospectus, is that despite the rise in value of the team, and of its stock, investors in Green Bay “should not purchase [GB] stock with the purpose of making a profit.” Why not? Because each share of the Green Bay Packers comes burdened with “transfer restrictions and redemption rights.”

The effect of these rights is to prevent anyone who bought a Green Bay share back in 1950 from ever realizing a dime of profit on the 10,000% appreciation of that share’s value today. Any time a Green Bay shareholder tries to sell a share today, “the Corporation has a right of first refusal to repurchase [GB] Stock at a price of $0.025 per share.”