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World Wrestling (WWE) Beats on Q1 Earnings; Stock Gains

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. WWE reported robust financial numbers in the first quarter of 2016 with both the top line and the bottom line beating estimates for the third consecutive quarter. The company’s earnings per share of 18 cents surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 11 cents and also increased 38.5% year over year. The company’s shares gained 2.2% yesterday after the announcement of robust quarterly results.

WWE’s revenues of $171.1 million came in above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $169 million but declined 2.9% year over year.

The company’s better-than-expected quarterly numbers were mainly driven by a substantial increase in international revenues and the WWE Network’s total subscriber base. The number of paid subscribers increased 39% from the first quarter of 2015 to more than 1.29 million. WWE Network is also available in the Indian Subcontinent, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Japan.

Revenues from North America declined 7.3% to $130 million, whereas revenues from Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA) improved 27.8% to $27.6 million. The Asia Pacific (APAC) and Latin America generated revenues of $11.6 million and $1.9 million, which represent a decline of 3.3% and 17.4%, respectively.

Segmental details:

Media Division: Revenues from the company’s Media division jumped 5% to $109.7 million as Network, Television and Digital Media revenues increased 7.2% to $40.3 million, 4.3% to $60.7 million and 25.6% to $5.4 million, respectively, from the prior-year quarter. On the other hand, Home Entertainment revenues declined 29.8% year over year to $3.3 million.

Live Events: Revenues from Live Events fell 36% to $25.3 million, primarily due to change in the timing of the company's annual WrestleMania event. A total of 78 events took place in the first quarter, which includes 72 events in North America and six internationally. In the prior-year quarter, there were 76 events in total, including 73 in North America and three globally. North American live event revenues plunged 40.5% year over year to $22.8 million. On the other hand, International live event revenues surged 60% year over year to $2.5 million.

Consumer Product Division: This segment’s revenues rose 10% to $33.3 million, driven by increased revenues from licensing and merchandise. Licensing revenues increased 27% to $21 million year over year.

WWE Studios:  This segment reported revenue growth of 33.3% of $2 million.

Other Financial Details

WWE ended the quarter with cash and cash equivalents of $23.2 million, long-term debt of $16 million and shareholders’ equity of $218 million. Corporate and other expenses came in at $42.1 million as against 38.1 million in the prior-year quarter. At the end of the first quarter, the company had a negative free cash flow of $5.2 million compared with a positive $8.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

Outlook

For second-quarter 2016, WWE anticipates average paid subscribers of 1.5 million. Adjusted OBIDA is projected in the range of $5–$9 million.

Management is strengthening and expanding the WWE Network through the creation of new content, implementation of programs which will have higher customer attraction and retention power, introduction of new features, expansion of distribution platforms and foraying into new regions.

Zacks Rank and Key Picks

WWE, which shares space with Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. LYV, has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Some other stocks which warrant a look in this sector include IMAX Corporation IMAX and MSG Networks Inc. MSGN. IMAX sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), while MSG Networks holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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