World Wrestling Entertainment
Clearly, the outfit responsible for Wrestlemania, Vengeance, Smackdown!, and Raw is gaining steam overseas. Television rights fees were up 18% to $16.3 million due to new international distribution contracts, in addition to rights fees received from a revised contract with network UPN.
International strength also helped goose ticket prices at the company's 84 live events 6% to $40.70. During the quarter, WWE held seven of those events internationally, compared to three of 87 events last year (average ticket prices are higher overseas). Overall, however, average attendance at live events continued to decline to 5,100 from last year's 5,300.
WWE's third-quarter numbers also benefited from one extra event compared to last year's quarter. Revenues from live and televised entertainment grew 8.5% to $76.7 million. Meanwhile, pay-per-view sales were up 29% to 1.5 million.
Branded merchandise sales, however, were down 10% to $17.7 million, reflecting weakness across the board. Lower licensing revenues were partially offset by an increase in sales of licensed video games published by THQ
WWE is coming off a few tough years. But don't forget -- the company still has $4 per share in cash on its balance sheet and a fairly powerful brand. And the promising Wrestlemania XX approaches in March.
Reflecting its strong quarter, WWE raised its full-year earnings guidance for continuing operations to between $0.45 and $0.48 per share on revenues of $325 million to $350 million. Execution is key, but at $11 per share, the company carries a reasonable enterprise value of about 15 times this year's earnings.