Gaming is a long-term winning industry

Equities 8 minutes to read
Peter Garnry

Head of Equity Strategy

Summary:  The gaming industry is a high growth industry growing revenue by 37% in 2020 as the pandemic lifted demand for gaming as way to socialize and be entertained with many traditional leisure activities closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. The gaming industry is not only a high growth industry it is also very profitable, but this in turn has lured big technology companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft into the industry. Competition will likely increase but so will also the overall global revenue from gaming and analysts remain very positive on the 30 companies in our basket.


We have introduced five new equity theme baskets this year and we have many more coming. This is a good way to identify long-term trends in the economy but also a more exciting way to analyze the equity market during different volatility regimes. Today, we are launching our sixth equity theme introducing our Saxo Gaming equity theme basket consisting of 30 gaming stocks.

37% revenue growth in 2020

The gaming industry is a sprawling and fragmented industry with many companies deriving revenue and profits from other businesses than gaming. However, we have found 30 companies that we believe provide a good exposure to overall trend in gaming. The geographical split is good and as the segment column indicates exposure can be obtained either through graphics card manufacturers, streaming, or gaming developers. We have chosen the 30 largest gaming related companies on market value so this list should not be viewed as our investment recommendations. We like gaming overall, but investors will have to do the due diligence on the individual companies themselves.

NameSegmentMarket Cap (USD mn.)Sales growth (%)EBITDA growth (%)Diff to PT (%)
Tencent Holdings LtdMobile games855,64920.723.215.2
NVIDIA CorpGraphics card329,33052.768.519.2
Sea LtdMobile games121,838163.121.12.8
Advanced Micro Devices IncGraphics card99,94345.091.422.1
Nintendo Co LtdVideo games84,6599.039.65.2
NetEase IncMobile games75,36324.412.818.1
Activision Blizzard IncVideo games73,87424.645.618.9
Bilibili IncE-sport streaming46,40077.0NA2.3
Electronic Arts IncVideo games38,94211.945.917.4
Nexon Co LtdVideo games29,20517.917.43.7
Unity Software IncGraphics engine28,96442.6-93.935.6
Take-Two Interactive Software IncVideo games21,24215.846.619.1
Playtika Holding CorpMobile games12,12825.6NA27.0
Zynga IncMobile games12,01549.4-28.417.1
Embracer Group ABVideo games11,818NANA29.2
Kingsoft Corp LtdVideo games10,41039.1157.120.1
Ubisoft Entertainment SAVideo games10,311-13.6-24.722.6
Konami Holdings CorpVideo games9,7450.1-10.91.9
Capcom Co LtdVideo games8,408-18.419.912.6
Square Enix Holdings Co LtdVideo games7,272-0.427.810.3
CD Projekt SAVideo games6,84543.668.817.9
HUYA IncGame streaming6,68279.6474.4-2.0
DouYu International Holdings LtdGame streaming4,81899.394.90.5
Stillfront Group ABVideo games4,000102.9109.339.5
Corsair Gaming IncHardware3,36855.2229.331.9
DeNA Co LtdMobile games2,677-2.2NA-2.8
Keywords Studios PLCGame consulting2,67230.226.214.7
Paradox Interactive ABVideo games2,25039.149.323.1
Glu Mobile IncMobile games2,17431.422.4-0.1
GungHo Online Entertainment IncVideo games1,995-2.59.635.8
Aggregate / mean values1,924,99636.759.416.0

As the table indicates the revenue growth rate is very high with 37% on average in 2020 as the pandemic impacted demand positively. Whereas other high growth industries such as e-commerce is running low margins have difficulties generating large free cash flows, the gaming industry is very profitable. Capital expenditures required are low and revenue can easily scale due to the digital nature of the business. EBITDA growth was 59% in 2020 and analysts are very positive on the industry with an average price target that is 16% above the current price.

Our gaming basket is up 5.8% year-to-date and up 101% the past year and up 772% over the past five years. Historic performance is no indication of future performance so investors should not put to much weight on these performance metrics. They reflect the high growth of gaming but what is relevant is whether the growth can continue for another decade.

 

The gaming industry will continue grab leisure market share

The pandemic was a game changer for the gaming industry with many more users being exposed to gaming as sports events and general leisure activity closed. According to data on gaming consumption the average American adult spends around an hour a day gaming socially online, and streaming of esports is gaining popularity. A good indication of this came in 2019 when the CEO of Netflix said that the company’s biggest threat was not Disney or HBO, but that of Fortnite, one of the most popular games in the world.

In 2019 before the pandemic emerged, the industry generated $120bn in revenue (see revenue breakdown below) and by 2021 it is projected that 2.7bn people will be playing games on one platform or another. The industry has benefitted a lot from smartphones allowing the industry to steal time from people commuting or when they have spare moment. Many games are also designed around the same reward feedback loops invented by social media platforms increasing engagement (often just a positive word for addiction). The future of gaming will see fierce competition as the high profitable growth in gaming is luring in big technology firms such as Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft into the industry. The expectation is that VR/AI will be come more dominant features of gaming in the future but so far Facebook’s bet with Oculus has not turned into the success everyone was predicting.

Source: builtin.com

Key risks to consider

The pandemic has lifted revenue growth rates for all gaming companies and elevated their share prices and equity valuations. As society opens on the back of vaccines people likely prioritize to socialize physical for some time and go to restaurants and cafés instead of playing video games. This could reduce revenue growth in 2021. In November 2019, China introduced new regulation that restrict playtime for minors as gaming can be addictive and especially because gaming developers are become better at designing games with reward feedback loops derived from learnings in social media. This Chinese regulation hit initially Tencent hard, but the Chinese company recovered as Covid-19 increased gaming consumption from the elderly population. Similar regulation could come to the developed world over time reducing time spent on gaming.

Other key risks are the difficulties as a gaming developer to constantly develop the next new game that will captivate users to keep growth high. There are several examples of gaming developers once successful losing their ability to innovate. Big companies such as Apple, Google, and Amazon are also seizing opportunities in the gaming space following the footsteps of Microsoft. With these technology giants and their enormous distribution, they could become a big threat to existing gaming developers and their gaming platforms.

Many gaming stocks come with rich equity valuation which means that the implied equity risk premium is low. This means that rising interest rates impacts the equity valuations more and thus the risk of rising interest rates in the US should be a key consideration for investors that want exposure to the gaming industry.

Previous notes on equity themes:

The commodity sector and the reflation trade in 2021 – 4 January 2021

Bubble stocks go into ‘hyperdrive’ mode – 8 January 2021

Introducing Next Generation Medicine basket – 20 January 2021

Updating our Green Transformation theme basket – 29 January 2021

Launching Saxo’s E-commerce theme basket as more growth lies ahead – 5 February 2021

Be careful of bubble stocks and updating bubble methodology – 12 February 2021

Disclaimer

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website is not intended to and does not change or expand on this. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
- Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)
- Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/en-hk/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)

Saxo Capital Markets HK Limited
19th Floor
Shanghai Commercial Bank Tower
12 Queen’s Road Central
Hong Kong

Contact Saxo

Select region

Hong Kong S.A.R
Hong Kong S.A.R

Saxo Capital Markets HK is a company authorised and regulated by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong. Saxo Capital Markets HK Limited holds a Type 1 Regulated Activity (Dealing in securities); Type 2 Regulated Activity (Dealing in Futures Contract) and Type 3 Regulated Activity (Leveraged foreign exchange trading) licenses (CE No. AVD061). Registered address: 19th Floor, Shanghai Commercial Bank Tower, 12 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong

By clicking on certain links on this site, you are aware and agree to leave the website of Saxo Capital Markets, proceed on to the linked site managed by Saxo Group and where you will be subject to the terms of that linked site.

Apple, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the US and other countries. AppStore is a service mark of Apple Inc.

Please note that the information on this site and any product and services we offer are not targeted at investors residing in the United States and Japan, and are not intended for distribution to, or use by any person in any country or jurisdiction where such distribution or use would be contrary to local law or regulation. Please click here to view our full disclaimer.