Is Event Hospitality and Entertainment Ltd a buy at this share price?

Event Hospitality and Entertainment Ltd (ASX: EVT) doesn’t get much notice from the media, despite its $2.4 billion market cap.

Event Hospitality is behind the likes of Event and Greater Union Cinemas, Rydges hotels and resorts, QT hotels and resorts, and the owner of the Thredbo Alpine Resort. The company counts 54 hotels, 142 cinemas in Australia, New Zealand and Germany among its assets, bringing in $1.28 billion in revenues and generating $130 million in net profit.

The lack of attention from the media is mainly because the company is illiquid. Only a handful of shares trade each day, if at all, due to a tightly held register. No wonder the company is only included in the All Ordinaries (Index: ^AORD) (ASX: XAO) index.

Chairman Alan Rydge holds around 72 million shares directly and indirectly according to the company’s annual report.

Listed Investment company (LIC) Carlton Investments Limited (ASX: CIN) also holds roughly half its portfolio (47%) in Event Hospitality shares. Mr Rydge is also a director and chairman of Carlton Investments and holds more than 50% of Carlton Investments. Fund manager Perpetual Limited (ASX: PPT) also holds another ~10% of Event Hospitality.

That illiquidity means most large fund managers wouldn’t be able to build a meaningful position in Event shares and that’s why just three analysts cover the company.

That means there’s potential for retail investors to participate in Event’s future. The good news is that Mr Rydge has a substantial shareholding in the company, so retail investors are investing alongside him. That should mean very few “un-shareholder-friendly” decisions. A growing tourism sector in Australia and our love of going to the movies that doesn’t appear to be slowing down are also nice tailwinds to have.

On earnings per share of 82.2 cents and at the current share price of $14.90, Event’s shares are trading on a trailing P/E of ~18x earnings. That’s just above the company’s long-term average of 16.1x.

For comparison, competitor Village Roadshow Ltd (ASX: VRL) trades on a higher trailing P/E of 23x earnings.

Event’s dividend yield of 3.4% is nothing to be sneezed at, having more than doubled since 2006’s 24 cents to 51 cents in the 2016 financial year.

As such, Event appears to be fairly priced, but any decent pullback in the share price could be a buying opportunity. Another alternative is Vista Group International Ltd (ASX: VGL), which produces the software cinemas and theatres use to manage their movies – and is used in more than 70 countries.

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King doesn't own shares in any companies mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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