WWE Smacks Down First-Quarter Profit and Revenue Estimates

World Wrestling Entertainment swung to a first-quarter profit on 60% higher revenue, with both figures stronger than analysts had forecast.
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World Wrestling Entertainment  (WWE) - Get Report swung to a first-quarter profit from a year earlier loss on 60% higher revenue, with both figures stronger than analysts had forecast.

At last check WWE shares were trading up 7.5% near $42. They closed the regular session on Thursday down 1%.

The Stamford, Conn., sponsor of wrestling matches earned 31 cents a share in the quarter compared with a loss of 11 cents in the year-earlier quarter. Shares outstanding rose 9.1% to 85.1 million from 78 million. Revenue reached $291 million from $182.4 million. 

A survey of analysts by FactSet produced consensus estimates of 26 cents a share of earnings on $272.4 million of revenue.

The first quarter "was strong and largely unimpacted by the covid-19 outbreak," Chairman and Chief Executive Vince McMahon said in a statement.

"Now, we are in the midst of unprecedented times, which require us to be especially nimble, creative and efficient in order to ensure the long-term value of WWE."

Chief Financial Officer Frank Riddick said in the statement that WWE "offset the impact of canceled events by reducing production and other costs."

At the same time, the company said that "the impact of covid-19 may not be limited to the sale of live-event tickets and merchandise, and the adverse impact on other areas of operation are not known at this time."

At mid-month WWE said that it furloughed staff and pared salaries in response to the coronavirus pandemic. A report from Sports Illustrated had said that the company also released a number of its wrestlers. 

WWE deferred spending on its new headquarters, reducing 2020 capital outlays by $140 million. It has also suspended its stock buybacks and drawn $200 million from its revolving-credit facility to bulk up its liquidity to a current total of $500 million.

And WWE said that while it can't quantify the impact of covid-19, "that impact may be material." The company previously withdrew its financial guidance for 2020 and it declined to reinstate that guidance right now.

"Management continues to believe the company's growth prospects remain strong and that WWE is well-positioned to take a full advantage of the changing media landscape and increasing value of live sports rights over the longer-term," WWE said in its statement.