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These 3 Stocks May Rip Higher When the Coronavirus Outbreak Starts to Improve

By Andrew Tseng - Apr 1, 2020 at 7:31AM

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Customers are fleeing these companies, but they'll come back.

Every investor's dream is to take advantage of a market crash by snapping up a handful of stocks at bargain prices. While no one knows the short-term path of the market or individual stock prices, it is possible to identify stocks that should begin to soar whenever the market begins to price in a future economic recovery.

Madison Square Garden

The Madison Square Garden Company (NYSE:MSG) owns the New York Knicks NBA franchise, the New York Rangers NHL franchise, as well as the Madison Square Garden arena, and several other valuable assets.

This business is facing almost every headwind imaginable right now. Not only have the Knicks not had a winning record since the 2012-2013 NBA season, but the rest of the NBA season has been suspended due to coronavirus. The NHL season has been on pause since earlier this month and could be canceled at this rate. And the company's many live event venues are temporarily closed as well. That's a lot of lost revenue and profit.

As a result, MSG shares have tanked from $314 per share in February to as low as $191 on March 23 -- a rapid 39% drop in only a few weeks. Since then, the stock has bounced back some to about $220, implying a $5.3 billion market capitalization.

A basketball being shot toward the rim at a professional basketball game

Image source: Getty Images.

That is low compared to the company's asset value. Forbes recently valued the Knicks and Rangers franchises at $3.4 billion and $1.1 billion, respectively. The tax assessment value of the Madison Square Garden arena alone was $1.2 billion in 2017. The company also has $1.1 billion of cash on the balance sheet, likely another $400 million from its pending sale of The Forum in Los Angeles, and only $36 million of debt. Those assets alone add up to $7.2 billion of value without even considering the company's many other assets. Throw in the fact that sports team transactions almost always occur at a premium to the Forbes value, and it's crystal clear that the company is substantially undervalued.

It's possible that the company's upcoming spin-off of its sports franchises may unlock shareholder value. More importantly, when the market senses that the worst part of the coronavirus pandemic may be behind us, especially in the New York area, MSG shares are likely to soar.

Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts (MTN 2.34%) operates 17 of the biggest ski resorts in North America and Australia, including Whistler Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Vail Mountain, Park City, Keystone, and Beaver Creek. This is a high fixed-cost, low variable-cost business because it costs a lot to operate ski resorts, but each additional skier doesn't have very many associated costs.

In good times, that means the revenue from more skiers is very profitable. It also means in bad times, the lost revenue from many fewer skiers causes a massive decline in profit. Fortunately for the company, it had gotten through most of this winter's ski season before coronavirus hit North America in a meaningful way.

When the company reported its fiscal second-quarter results on March 9, management withdrew the previous earnings guidance it had given in January due to uncertainty about coronavirus. The company had seen a "marked negative change in performance from the prior week, with destination skier visits modestly below expectations." Last week, the company announced it was closing all of its North American ski resorts for the remainder of the ski season.

Vail Resorts' stock price has fallen from $252 per share in February to around $150 recently. That puts the dividend yield at around 4.7%. If coronavirus is mostly under control in North America before the 2020/2021 ski season, Vail's stock price will probably be much higher than it is today.

Lyft

Lyft (LYFT 1.51%) is a ride-hailing business that competes solely in North America where it is generally the No. 2 player behind Uber Technologies. Lyft shares have tanked from a recent high of $54 per share on February 11 to as low as $16 on March 18. The stock has now bounced back to about $27 per share, but is still down 50% from its recent high.

Certainly, the market is correct to think Lyft's ride-hailing business will be hurt very badly during this coronavirus pandemic. Very few people are going to be taking Lyft rides when many are told to "shelter in place" and others want to stay home anyway to help minimize the spread of the virus.

But Lyft has a service that is highly valued by its customers. One day, Lyft riders will resume pre-coronavirus usage, and others will discover the attractive value proposition of ridesharing for the first time. And with $2.9 billion of cash and no debt on the books, it's likely Lyft will survive to see the recovery in both the economy and its stock price. Investors should consider these three stocks before the eventual recovery.

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Stocks Mentioned

Vail Resorts, Inc. Stock Quote
Vail Resorts, Inc.
MTN
$223.15 (2.34%) $5.10
Lyft, Inc. Stock Quote
Lyft, Inc.
LYFT
$13.48 (1.51%) $0.20
Uber Technologies, Inc. Stock Quote
Uber Technologies, Inc.
UBER
$21.34 (4.30%) $0.88

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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