In the 11 years I have been with the
World Wresting Entertainment
, I have seen a lot. I have seen Hulk Hogan leave for WCW, our rival. I have seen Vince McMahon buy WCW and Hulk Hogan come back. I saw Hulk Hogan retire. I saw Hulk Hogan come back. I saw Hulk Hogan come back again.
I have seen the rise of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. I have also seen both retire. I have seen Mick Foley keep retiring. I have seen Bret Hart, Diesel, Razor Ramon and the Ultimate Warrior come and go. I have seen my character, JBL, come and go. I have seen Undertaker continue to be called upon to put people in seats.
I have learned a lot. "Sports entertainment" -- a term Vince coined to describe pro wrestling -- is an attraction-oriented business. When the WWE lost Stone Cold and The Rock, it took a long time to recover. Such is the case in an attraction-oriented business.
The key to investing in an attraction-oriented business is knowing that the machine that created the attraction is still in place. If you had bought WWE in late 2002/early 2003 when there were no attractions to speak of, you would be very happy now.
I have another business that is based on attractions, the death of which is also greatly exaggerated. That would be
Regal Entertainment Group
, the world's largest theater chain; RGC owns 542 theaters (6,383 screens) in 40 states.
The local cinema is far from extinct. Cinemark USA is proposing an acquisition of Century Theatre. Dearborn Capital Partners, which owns Cinemark, is reported to be considering a public offering, as is AMC Entertainment.
National CineMedia, which is owned by these three theater chains, of which RGC owns 49.9%, is also a company that would be a candidate for an initial public offering. CineMedia is theater advertising company that contributes just over 6% of RGC's revenue.
Attractions will always make money; it is just where they make money that has investors concerned. Piracy is hurting DVD sales. DVDs themselves are a question as to where they will be bought and rented in the future.
My bet is against
; they are late to the game of video rentals by mail and downloads, a market owned by
. I also believe Netflix will be leapfrogged technologically when video download kiosks start popping up in grocery stores and
across the country.
I believe what is left of the DVD rental business as we now know it will be destroyed by video on demand and by downloadable content off of the Internet.
What is certain, I believe, is that the local cinema experience for now is still king.
Pirates of the Caribbean
took in the biggest three-day gross in history.
, which was projected to bring in $30 million on opening weekend, brought in $47 million.
National box office revenues increased from between 7.5% and 8% in the second quarter year over year. Regal Entertainment Group's total admission revenue, which is two-thirds of total revenue, was up 7.8% year over year.
While RGC benefits the most from these attractions, they are still held hostage by what Hollywood puts on their screens and technological advances. However, I believe these issues are priced into the stock.
Regal Entertainment Group has price-to-earnings multiple of 26 based on 2006 consensus earning estimates of 73 cents per share. RGC also has growth projected at 26% with next year's consensus earnings forecast at 92 cents. RGC is throwing off $395 million in operating cash flow and sports a terrific yield of over 6%.
The same Hollywood machine that has created all the previous hits is still in place, and I believe RGC has plenty of legs left before the world becomes educated to downloading movie content over the Internet. Add to that the current advertising rush to find captive eyeballs, which National CineMedia offers, and I believe RGC is a compelling stock to own here at this level.
being poor is bad, staying that way is stupid
At the time of publication Layfield was long WWE and Wal-Mart, although holdings can change at any time. A former All-American offensive lineman at Abilene Christian University, John Layfield played professional football for the then-Los Angeles Raiders and later in the World League. After wrestling in Japan, Mexico and Europe, Layfield arrived in the WWE in the mid-1990's. A former WWE champion, JBL was a featured wrester at WrestleMania 21 and can also be seen on Friday Night SmackDown! on UPN. Outside of the ring, JBL is a self-taught investor who was recruited to write a personal finance book, Have More Money Now, which was released in the summer of 2003. He has appeared on finance shows on CNN and Fox News Network. He is co-chairman of the Smackdown Your Vote! Campaign and he has joined both the USO and Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) for tours through Iraq, Afghanistan and other Middle East countries. He regularly visits the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and the Bethesda naval hospital to meet with wounded troops.