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WWE Raised to Buy at Benchmark on Cost-Cutting Initiatives

WWE was lauded, and its shares raised to buy, at Benchmark Capital for a significant reduction in its monthly cash burn.
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Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment  (WWE) rose on Friday after analysts at Benchmark Capital upgraded the stock to buy from hold with a $46 price target. 

The upgrade comes after WWE recently put in place wide-ranging cost cuts, including furloughing staff, releasing wrestlers and cutting salaries. 

WWE "has achieved a significant reduction in monthly cash burn and does not appear to have any near-term liquidity issues,” analyst Mike Hickey wrote.

Hickey also called the company's recent cost-cutting moves an "aggressive containment strategy" that is "an acceptable response considering presumed covid-19 negative impact."

The firm also estimates that WWE's contractual television-rights fees are worth more than the current enterprise value of the company itself. 

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On Wednesday, WWE said it would also cut expenses related to operations and talent, reduce third-party staffing and consulting, and defer spending on the buildout of its new headquarters for at least six months.

The WWE said Kurt Angle, Drake Maverick, Curt Hawkins Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, Heath Slater, Eric Young, EC3, Aiden English and Lio Rush were all released.

The WWE said the actions would save an estimated $4 million a month, along with cash-flow improvement of $140 million, primarily from the deferred spending on the new headquarters. 

WWE is scheduled to release earnings on April 23.

Despite the austerity measures, WWE on Thursday said the board declared a quarterly dividend of 12 cents a share, payable June 25 to holders of record June 15. 

WWE shares at last check rose 2.8% to $40.72.