WWE Posts Stronger-Than-Expected Profit on Improved Operations

Company holds first live WrestleMania event in more than year.
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World Wrestling Entertainment  (WWE) - Get Report shares rose in after-hours trading Thursday, after the company’s earnings surpassed expectations for the first quarter .

Net income registered $43.8 million, or $0.51 per share, rising from $26.2 million, or $0.31 per share, in the first quarter of 2020. The FactSet analyst consensus called for 23 cents per share in the latest quarter.

The profit increased “primarily reflects improved operating performance and, to a lesser extent, the absence of impairment charges related to certain equity investments,” WWE said in a statement.

Revenue totaled $263.5 million, down 9% from $291 million last year. The analyst consensus called for $257.6 million in the latest quarter.

The revenue decline stemmed from “the absence of the company’s ticketed live events and a large-scale international event,” WWE said. That absence, of course, resulted from the COVID pandemic.

But that negative was “partially offset by the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights,” the company said.

WWE held its first live event in more than a year earlier this month, just after the end of its latest quarter. The WrestleMania event at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida drew 51,350 fans combined over two nights.

WWE recently traded at $58, up 3.17%, in after-hours trading. The stock soared 44% in the last six months, as home-bound consumers have lapped up video content during the pandemic.

Last week, TheStreet.com founder Jim Cramer expressed bullishness for WWE. "This is a very well-run company. I think you're in good hands," he said.

In January, Comcast's  (CMCSA) - Get Report NBCUniversal signed a multi-year agreement to stream WWE on its streaming platform Peacock. While the terms of the deal were not disclosed, The Wall Street Journal reported it runs five years and is valued at more than $1 billion.