World Wrestling Entertainment's CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. ( WWE)

Q4 2011 Earnings Conference Call

February 23, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Michael Weitz – Senior Vice President, Investor Relations

Vince McMahon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

George Barrios – Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Cody Slach – Roth Capital Partners

Michael Kupinski – Noble Financial

Brad Safalow – PAA Research

Daniel Kilmurray – UBS

Jamie Clements – Sidoti

Marla Backer – Hudson Square

Presentation

Operator

Welcome to the WWE Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2011 Earnings Call. My name is (John) and I will be your operator for today's call. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. I will now turn the call over to Mr. Michael Weitz, SVP of Investor Relations for WWE. Mr. Weitz, you may begin.

Michael Weitz S enior V ice P resident, Investor Relations

Thank you and good morning everyone. Joining me for today’s discussion are Vince McMahon, our Chairman and CEO and George Barrios, our CFO.

We issued our earnings release earlier this morning and have posted the release, our presentation, and other supporting materials on our website, corporate.wwe.com. These materials can be referenced in conjunction with the discussion today to clarify our performance and the trends in our business.

In our discussion today, we'll make several forward-looking statements. These statements are based on management's estimates. Actual results may differ due to numerous factors as described in our presentation and in our filings with the SEC. For any non-GAAP financial measures discussed on this call, reconciliations to GAAP measures can be found in our earnings release and in our website presentation. Today, we'll review our results for the fourth quarter and full year 2011 and we’ll follow this review with a Q&A session.

At this time, it's my privilege to turn the call over to Vince.

Vince McMahon – Chairman and Chief Executive Officer

Good morning everyone. We have had less than a stellar quarter obviously, and as a result, the less than stellar full year. 95% of that less than stellar really coming from the lack of performers from two areas, one will be the film division and the other will be television licensing.

If you recall in a previous call, I mentioned that if the new strategies, new film strategies does not work we probably in all likelihood would be out of the film business. I still feel very strongly the new strategy will work under Mike Luisi and because it really concentrates on more of a significant change relative to our approach increasing partnerships with the major studios and specific ones and specific genres as well as better terms of distribution and things about nature. So, I am still not just hopeful, but I really feel strongly that under this new guidance and this new approach that the film really is going to work despite the previous performance and we've pretty much written off most of our old stuff by now in terms of impairments and things of that nature.

The other aspect of less than stellar comes from television licensing decisions. And quite frankly, that was more strategic than anything else. We are back out in the marketplace, because the time is right now to exploit our in-ring television licensing programs as well as those that are out of the ring. I must say, there has been never been a stronger demand for WWE product than there is now. So, we really feel strong in terms of capitalizing on what we didn't capitalize on two names in specific of television shows Superstars and NXT, whether we bring out those specific titles or not and add to those things, for instance, of reality programming. Tough enough, we brought that back, tough enough an original series on MTV, we brought it back to USA highly successful.

We then are currently actually in production with something a reality show called Legends House and a great deal of anticipation for that coming to the marketplace. We likewise have initiated a much more developmental situation with the YouTube. We have 9 original YouTube short form series that's out there as well. We are continuing to develop in preparation about 27,000 hours in our digital video library for television broadcast as well. So, we have lots of products with WWE and a great deal of demand in every respect.

And I guess maybe one of the things to lend to that stronger demand would be how we have done social media, which quite frankly we are one of the few commercial brands that have really just been burning up social media on a global basis. We had more than 1 billion views in 2011 on YouTube alone, some 50 million Facebook friends, 80 million Twitter followers. So, the brand itself is extremely strong and very hungry for more WWE contents. We really feel strongly about that and where we are from a strategic standpoint.

Other initiatives that I think sort of tell where we are now and always have would be live event attendance, which despite the economy is up 7% in the quarter. To me, that's always been the barometer of where we are and where we are going when you break it down to just the basics.

So, with that in mind, I am further developing our brand presence that I mentioned over all aspects of distribution. I think that the business looks very strong, going forward. As internationally, we mentioned any number of times and we, since the last call, we've done a number of things. We've had television events in Mexico, tremendously successful. Just the last week we were in Qatar, which was enormously successful. We have finally broken through on some of the brick, concretes (indiscernible) now in Brazil and Russia.

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