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NASCAR Moving Fast Bodes Well for International Speedway

Michael Lewis
January 30, 2014

Daytona, Fla.-based International Speedway (NASDAQ: ISCA) is an American staple. The company behind NASCAR's greatest event, the Daytona 500, and plenty of others, believes its brightest days are ahead of it after the country's biggest sport (by sales) renegotiated a lucrative TV contract and as NASCAR's stars grow their public image and appeal. While International Speedway isn't a press-loving hyper-growth or cheaply valued stock, the company does offer investors a rare, vivid view into its sales for the next decade -- a luxury that allows for easy forecasting. Recent earnings showed a year-over-year drop for the company's full fiscal year, but that should not deter investors from what looks to be a reliable, easy-to-understand business that will without doubt grow in the long term.

NASCAR, like most other elements of the U.S. economy, was hurt deeply during the financial crisis and was slow to recover. As of year-end 2013, International Speedway management was finally seeing what it considers a "stabilization" of its core business.

As mentioned above, sales did fall year over year, but just barely. The company hauled in $188.7 million in its fiscal fourth quarter -- down from $189.4 million in 2012's same quarter. Beyond the macroeconomic timidity, the company took hits in the form of a $400,000 marketing expense for its mega project at the Daytona Speedway, called Daytona Rising. 

Daytona Rising is a much bigger project than that 400 grand might suggest. It's a $400 million effort to revamp the iconic venue. At its completion, Daytona Rising will have 40 million pounds of steel -- 1% of annual U.S. steel output. The project is aimed at reenergizing consumer interest in the sport, enhancing the experience, drawing in more corporate sponsors (the first major sponsor is to be named shortly), and ultimately, greater usage fees. Additionally, the company has a proposed project that would be built across the street. This one, called One Daytona, would be a multipurpose entertainment complex.

International Speedway also took a $6.3 million charge related to retired assets.

On an adjusted basis, net income came in at $25.8 million ($0.55 per share), compared to $28.3 million ($0.61 per share) in the year-ago quarter.

So what makes this business appealing if sales are still falling year over year, especially considering that NASCAR is only growing its already tremendous fan base and sales?

The big thing for investors to focus on is the fact that NASCAR j