I’m talking about Games Workshop Group Plc, the Nottingham-based manufacturer of tabletop, post-apocalyptic fantasy game Warhammer 40,000. Surprisingly high quarterly sales and profit, coupled with the promise of a chunky payout, lifted the shares by another 10% on Thursday, swelling the market capitalization to 3.2 billion pounds ($4.2 billion). That’s more than U.K. high street clothing and food giant Marks & Spencer Group Plc.
The stock has gained almost 1,600% over the past five years and shareholders who reinvested dividends have enjoyed a 2,140% return, by far the best performance on the FTSE All-Share Index. In percentage terms only two Nasdaq 100 constituents — Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Nvidia Corp. — have done better in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Besides BlackRock Inc., Games Workshop’s largest shareholder is JP Morgan Chase & Co.’s asset management arm. Could it be that Jamie Dimon is a fan of miniature space marines and monsters?
For the uninitiated (I include myself in that description), Warhammer hobbyists purchase small plastic goblins and orcs and spend countless hours painting the miniatures and modeling fantastical landscapes. Battles are fought either at home or at one of the company’s retail outlets. The outcome is decided by rolling dice, along with the player’s tactics and strategic acumen, of course.
You might think this niche type of gaming would struggle in the era of elaborate and free-to-play mobile games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty. Social distancing rules have made it harder to meet up with groups of friends. But the in-person dynamic is clearly something Games Workshop is proud of. “Our games are played between people present in a room, not with a screen. They are truly social and build a real sense of community and comradeship,” the company states on its website. Collecting a mighty army doesn’t come