It seems like just yesterday the nation was swept up in Linsanity after the rise in fame of Jeremy Lin. Lin, the undrafted Harvard graduate, led the Knicks in a seven game win streak and a 10-3 record in his first 13 games as a starter. After this run in February, the Knicks went on a six game losing streak. After the six losses and rumored disruptions with team chemistry, head coach Mike D'Antoni resigned from the team.
New interim head coach Mike Woodson quietly has the Knicks star players clicking and off to a 3-0 record since taking over head coaching duties. In those three victories, the New York Knicks scored 338 points and all players seem to be contributing and finding their roles. Many analysts and even Seeking Alpha readers have started to recommend Madison Square Garden as a short trade but I have to disagree. Despite having a 21-24 record, the New York Knicks are in the eighth position of the Eastern Conference and as of today would be in the NBA Playoffs. Madison Square Garden (MSG) is still clicking across all platforms and will continue to be a good investment.
The Knicks were 8-15 before Jeremy Lin took over as starting point guard. During that initial span the Knicks averaged television ratings of under 3. Since Lin's starts, the team averaged ratings of between 5 and 8 on the Madison Square Garden network, which is also owned by Madison Square Garden. Television ratings have decreased but don't forget that during the time Linsanity was going on, a battle between Time Warner (TWX) and Madison Square Garden was going on over subscriber fees. Linsanity could not have come at a better time for shareholders of Madison Square Garden. The company was able to force Time Warner into higher subscription fees due to increased demand for the Madison Square Garden Network. Since Jeremy Lin began his rise to stardom in New York, shares of Knicks owner Madison Square Garden are up 13%.
Time will tell if new coach Mike Bowman can help the Knicks get back on track and climb up the standings. Last year shares began to rise around playoff time as the New York Rangers and New York Knicks both made the playoffs in their respective sports. With 11 games remaining, the New York Rangers are in first place in the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League. They are in a hard fought battle in their division with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers and should receive either the 1, 4, or 5 seed in the playoffs.
Another important factor to consider is the possibility of a new coach for the New York Knicks next year. There is an outside chance that the Knicks can lure Phil Jackson out of retirement to come lead the team during the 2012-2013 season. Phil Jackson, the former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach, has won a record 11 NBA Championships as a coach. Jackson was a member of the New York Knicks as a player and won two NBA Championships as a player with the Knicks. He has long been rumored a candidate for the head coaching job and after taking this season off, he may be ready to come to New York for a new challenge.
In May (see article) and December (see article), I wrote articles about Madison Square Garden being the best pure play investment option for owning four sports teams. Those articles go into further details about the assets that are owned by the company. New construction to the arena remains on track and will bring increased revenue from more suites as they are put in. Season ticket prices are being raised next year for the Rangers and Knicks and will have no problem selling.
Shares of Madison Square Garden gained 11% in 2011, when the stock was a member of my honorable mention stock picks (see article) for the year. Since the beginning of the year, shares have rose 15% and are currently trading at $33.02. The current trading price is $33.02, which is a mere 1% off of its 52 week and all time high.
As analysts and investors sell the stock because of the decrease in Linsanity, you should have your cash ready to go. I would aggressively buy into Madison Square Garden shares as it approaches $30. Remember, the company has more going for it than one player or even one sport. Madison Square Garden has beat analysts' expected earnings three of the last four quarters and will be looking for $0.13 from the first quarter.