I think Vince McMahon has a new move in his wrestling repertoire: the Earnings Piledriver.
World Wrestling Entertainment
Pay-per-view products were a big performance driver for the company this quarter. From three premium televised events this quarter, WWE captured $18.8 million, compared to $18.5 million from four events in last year's quarter. Nothing beats getting more from less, and the company wants to continue to reap those benefits; it's planning two additional pay-per-views this year.
Merchandise, licensing, and international TV revenues also contributed positively to the quarter, but home video stole the show. Home video revenues were $11.9 million vs. $4.5 million a year ago, driven by a Wrestlemania anthology title and discs relating to the Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior characters. Notably, the company was able to increase its average sales price by roughly $5 per DVD. Kudos to management for working to raise prices and capture additional value from WWE's assets.
Let's talk free cash flow. For the quarter, WWE generated $14.4 million in free cash, compared to the consumption of $5.8 million in the comparable period. In the last six months, the company bagged $35.8 million in free cash. Much of the benefit came from an increase in accrued expenses, and those bills will need to be paid in the future. But with strong net income results, it's no wonder the McMahons doubled the current dividend, from $0.12 to $0.24 per share. That now gives the stock, on an annual basis, a yield of more than 6%.
Even if you back out that $3.4 million windfall and add it to the SG&A line, the operating results were impressive. Should the company continue to increase its free cash flow over time, then the dividend increases could become a standard practice. It's important to keep in mind, however, that wrestling is awfully cyclical. There will be years where the dividend increases just aren't there; consistently doubling a dividend is simply unsustainable. WWE is a media company, and it will have to deal with times when the fickle public chooses not to accept its content.
But it looks like WWE continues to Hulk up, building on last quarter's performance. With dividends on the rise and the brand seeming to be hitting its target demographic, the stock looks exciting again. (It closed yesterday with a gain of just under 8%.) Consider waiting for pullbacks that might make the shares even more compelling.
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