The Atlanta Braves' victory Tuesday night in Game 1 of the World Series is somewhat bittersweet for this Phillies fan. First, the Phillies did not make baseball's playoffst (again) and their National League East rivals did. Second, last night's starting pitcher, Charlie Morton, who made an early exit due to a leg fracture, used to be a Phillie, although he appeared in just four games during the 2016 season before getting hurt. Since then, Morton's record is an amazing 61-24. Still, I am rooting for the Braves.
My position in Liberty Braves Group (BATRA) , which owns the Braves and real estate interests, including Battery Atlanta, is not the reason I am pulling for the Braves. I just can't root for an American League team. However it has been a decent ride since I took that position in Liberty Braves Group just over a year ago for just under $21 a share. BATRA has risen 43% since then.
At the time of purchase, the stock seemed cheap given that the enterprise value, or EV (market cap minus cash plus debt, was around $1.45 billion. The New York Mets had just sold for $2.45 billion, and the previous April Forbes had listed the Braves as the 12th most valuable baseball franchise at $1.8 billion. COVID uncertainty aside, that seemed to leave some meat on the bone. The fact that Major League Baseball was back for a full season no doubt helped, as did the rising tide of the markets.
Forbes's most recent franchise valuation, released last March, listed the Braves as the 11th most valuable MLB franchise at $1.875 billion, up 4% from last year. The rise in BATRA has taken the company's enterprise value up to about $2 billion, so it appears as though the easy money (it's never easy) has been made.
It's hard to imagine what the Braves might fetch in a sale, though you'd have to think it would be north of the current price. However, it's hard to believe Liberty Media would want to part ways with this subsidiary. The extent to which a World Series victory might drive shares higher remains to be seen. That might be a tall order anyway, now that Charlie Morton is injured.