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Last week, Stephen Dubner at the Freakonomics blog had
about the debate over whether poker should be considered a game of skill or chance.
This discussion is important not only for the sake of poker players who want to justify the enormous amount of time spent studying and playing the game but also because of the SAFE Port Act passed in October of last year that forbids U.S. players from participating in online gambling sites. The law specifically states that games "predominantly subject to chance" are affected, and poker is included under that umbrella.
The Freakonomics post is worth reading, especially for one question that I had not heard before: Is it possible to intentionally lose a poker game? If the answer is yes, then it's more likely that poker is a game of skill.
So what does this all mean for investors?
Well, if poker is a game of skill and can somehow avoid falling under the jurisdiction of the SAFE Port Act, then several stocks will be enormously effected. Toward this end, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.) recently introduced a bill that would allow Americans to play online again, calling Internet gambling a "victimless crime."
We've set up the
portfolio at Stockpickr, which contains five stocks that would be most affected on the long side and three stocks on the short side that might get hurt if poker sites were made legal again for U.S. players.
is one name that would benefit considerably, because it makes the software that fuels many of the online poker sites out there. Cryptologic has an excellent balance sheet, equipped to handle any slowdown with $126 million in cash in the bank and no debt.
With a market cap of about $405 million, that leaves the company with an enterprise value of just $283 million. The company had cash flows of $40 million over the past 12 months, giving it an enterprise value to cash flow multiple of just 7, making it an excellent takeover target at these levels if you think the legislation will be repealed.
Even without such a repeal, analysts from ThinkEquity expect Cryptologic to earn $1.30 per share on revenue of $90 million in 2007, down from their earlier estimate of $125 million in revenue and $2.08 a share. That's a harsh blow, but it's not a knockout punch as many had initially expected.
Two great Stockpickr portfolios also contain Cryptologic.
First, I've written about super-investor
several times. I profiled and interviewed him for my book,
Trade Like Warren Buffett
, and I've also written about him as a
potential successor to Warren Buffett. He's a deep value investor with about $500 million in assets and a tendency to like small-cap stocks that are trading well below their intrinsic value.
Go to Stockpickr to see the rest of his portfolio, including steel company
and regional airline company
Second, take a look at the
portfolio on Stockpickr. These are stocks that have had the worst 52-week returns of all the names that satisfy the formula described in
The Little Book That Beats the Market
. These are stocks with high return on capital (great companies) that are trading at low multiples over earnings (cheap companies).
Two other stocks on this list of 10 include biotech company
and digital-camera chipmaker
For more, including analysis, on the other stocks affected by any changes in the current online gambling law, check out the
portfolio. Of particular interest is an old favorite of mine,
. And some casinos, including
, are on the "hate list" of this portfolio.
On a related note, Steven Levitt, co-author of
with Dubner, is also a big fan of horse racing. In this post made last week on the Freakonomics blog, he
In honor of the Derby, we've set up this index at Stockpickr of offbeat stocks in the
, including online horse-wagering stocks such as
Also, if you haven't checked it out yet, please try out our newest feature,
. You can ask questions and answer them, and you can see who the "
" are and check out
At the time of publication, Altucher and/or his fund had no positions in stocks mentioned, although positions may change at any time.
James Altucher is president of Stockpickr LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of TheStreet.com and part of its network of Web properties, and a managing partner at Formula Capital, an alternative asset management firm that runs several quantitative-based hedge funds as well as a fund of hedge funds. He is also the author of
Trade Like a Hedge Fund
Trade Like Warren Buffett
. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Altucher appreciates your feedback;
to send him an email.
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