Is Speedway Motorsports making money?

Hank Hayes • Apr 8, 2019 at 8:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI), which owns and runs Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS), made a profit last year during a time when NASCAR’s popularity has been down.

SMI made $461.9 million in 2018 compared to $458.4 million in 2017, according to its fourth quarter and year-end financial report.

The 2016 “Battle at Bristol” featuring a college football game between the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech at BMS pulled SMI across the financial goal line that year, but no other college football games have happened.

There was a hint of a new college football game being scheduled when Alabama head football coach Nick Saban wore a Bristol Motor Speedway shirt to one of his weekly press conferences last fall.

A positive announcement came only days ago when BMS and race sponsor Food City said they will be extending their deal.

SMI’s management, meanwhile, is trying to be upbeat about the company’s future.

The company said it estimates full year 2019 total revenues of $450-470 million, net income of $37-45 million, depreciation, amortization and interest expense of $63-68 million, and non-Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) diluted earnings per share of $0.90-1.10.

“The range of earnings guidance reflects the lingering effects of uncertain economic conditions, among other factors,” SMI reported. “Inclement weather, potential higher fuel, health-care and other costs and continuing underemployment could significantly impact our future results.”

SMI’s 2018 adjusted non-GAAP net income increased over 2017 and was within the company’s expectations, said SMI President and CEO Marcus G. Smith.

“These positive 2018 results confirm our decisions to realign NASCAR races with a second major weekend at Las Vegas and reconfigure Charlotte’s legendary superspeedway into the industry’s first combined world-class road course – our 2.28-mile ROVAL™,” Smith said in SMI’s fourth quarter and year-end report. “We believe fan and corporate marketing appeal continue to increase for these first-class exciting venues and events. Our 2019 NASCAR season is off to a strong start. NASCAR’s rule and competition changes are creating exciting racing, with more passing and lead changes, which bodes well for attracting new fans and generating higher TV ratings as the season unfolds. All of our NASCAR Monster Energy Cup, and most Xfinity event sponsorships, are already sold for 2019, and many for several years beyond this year.”

SMI, Smith noted, continues to provide a “SMI Weather Guarantee” when fans purchase tickets for NASCAR races at its eight speedways.

SMI Executive Chairman O. Bruton Smith pointed out the company’s long-term business model remains strong.

“SMI’s financial strength continues to grow through debt reduction, dividend programs, share repurchases and increasing cost control. SMI’s management teams, NASCAR and the broadcasters are collectively focused on attracting the next generation of race fans,” Smith said. “We all realize the importance of investing in first-class racing entertainment and the latest technology that appeal to changing demographics and evolving media content consumption. SMI believes providing top-quality entertainment experiences that cannot be duplicated at home or other venues strongly complement NASCAR’s exciting enhancements to on-track competition and the broadcaster’s excellent media coverage. The pace of positive changes in our sport is only increasing, and is providing SMI and those involved in our NASCAR sport with expanding opportunities for increased long-term profitability.”