Odey Asset Management just disclosed a short in Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU), the English football champions. The London-based hedge fund, founded by Crispin Odey, has a short bet in 0.78% of the company’s outstanding shares according to a filing made public today.

Crispin Odey

Odey ManU short recently disclosed

Odey Asset Management’s flasgship fund, Odey European Inc with $1.6 billion under management, has gained +20% through 14 November of this year. The long/short equity hedge fund has a diverse portfolio with representations from a number of industries.

Take a look at Odey’s latest performance report here.

ManU reports positive earnings

Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) released 1Q2014 earnings on Novermber 14, posting a 29% increase in revenue, which was up to £98.5 million. The football team generated a 62.6% increase in sponsorship revenue which came to £45.2 million in this quarter. This was attributable to pre-season tours, new activations and higher renewals. Manchester United also reported earnings of £2.2 million, as opposed to a loss of £600,000 the company reported in the same quarter last year.

During the earnings call, the company also reiterated its guidance for FY2014: revenues are expected to fall in the range of £420-430 million whereas adjusted EBITDA would fall between  £128-133 million.

Higher forecast

JPMorgan’s analyst Mark O’Donnell sees higher revenues from the Champions League which will come from an increased broadcasting rights share. The company has itself forecasted that assuming revenues increase only from its broadcasting rights share, Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU)’s market share will be boosted by low double digit millions. O’Donnell further said in his report,

“In our view, the strong global brand and the club’s substantial fan/follower base should help continue the pace of further commercial deals (including strong potential in the US and Asia), which together with clarification on any new training kit deal, could provide growth upside.”

Nomura Research also increased its FY2016 estimates based on higher earnings from the Champions League. They now expect a 60% increase in income growth as compared to a previous estimate of 27% growth. Nomura gives MANU a Neutral rating.

Like JPMorgan, Raymond James Research has a bullish rating on the stock as well. In addition to the uncomping championship, Raymond James expects significant upside to earnings from the renewal of Manchester United’s profit sharing agreement with Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE) in 2016.

Odey short but Soros and Lansdowne on the long side

While Odey Asset Management and another hedge fund – Tremblant Capital – are shorting ManU’s stock, George Soros is a major stakeholder of the sports team, the fund holds 2.1 million shares of ManU. The legendary investor bought shares of the company when it debuted on the market back in August 2012.

Odey’s rival, Lansdowne Partners Limited also has a long position in the football team. The hedge fund owns 2.7 million shares of Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) after increasing its position slightly in the last quarter.

Shares of Manchester United are up 22% YTD.

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