Why World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Shares Got Smacked Down

While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a closer look at particularly stock-shaking analyst upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.

What: Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment  (NYSE: WWE  ) plummeted 44% today after the sports entertainment giant signed a disappointing TV deal and received a buy-to-hold downgrade from Benchmark.

So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Mike Hickey lowered his price target to $19.96 (from $29.12), almost exactly where the stock closed yesterday. So while contrarians might be attracted to WWE's massive plunge today, Hickey's call could reflect a sense on Wall Street that the company's WWE Network deal with NBCUniversal will continue to limit the stock's near-term upside.

Now what: According to Benchmark, WWE's risk/reward trade-off is pretty balanced at this point. "The Company's valuation could take a heavy beating this morning, as the new domestic TV deal with NBCu likely disappointed investors over limited visibility / believability on the ultimate success of the Network," said Hickey. "The initial subscriber number from the Network disappointed investors, and we have received limited visibility to where subscribers are currently tracking or where churn will ultimately settle; an uncomfortable silence that will likely extend until early August. We remain optimistic for the global success of the WWE Network, but consider the OIBDA growth shift to the Network as an unfavorable risk rebalance over the near term." Of course, with WWE shares now off a whopping 65% from their 52-week high and trading at a single-digit forward P/E, much of that uncertainty might already be baked into the valuation. 

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