World Wrestling Entertainment
Revenues were flat compared to last year, coming in at $93.3 million. Operating income, likewise, was about the same, equaling out to $15.6 million versus $15.8 million in the year-ago time frame. And to complete the theme, net income saw virtually no change, as the company earned $11.3 million, or $0.16 per diluted share.
Things looked pretty dull for WWE this time around. There weren't any significant declines in the above metrics, but there wasn't any growth, something that investors always want to see. Nevertheless, the stock did close yesterday with a gain of more than 11%, mainly because it beat expectations.
However, there was one precipitous decline in the area that matters most -- yes, even more than earnings. Head on down to the statement of cash flows and you'll find that the company's net cash from operations looks like it just suffered a spine-twisting Pedigree from Triple H -- that number dropped 89% to $2.4 million. Instead of generating free cash flow, the company actually used up about a million bucks, compared to booking over $21 million of cash flow in the previous year.
Two items that affected the cash flow are an investment in film production and an acquisition of some library products. Personally, I support such investments. Content is always valuable; WWE has an on-demand strategy in place and is gearing up to exploit its archived material for shareholder benefit. As far as I am concerned, making movies will be a long-term positive for the company, even in light of the disappointing See No Evil, a WWE Films product that was distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment
Looking through the rest of the report, we see that WWE is doing well with its home video and digital media businesses. The increases in those units helped to drive a 28% revenue increase for consumer products. The Wrestlemania 22 DVD sold 345,000 copies and aided the 55% gross-unit increase observed in the entire video category. Pay-per-views decreased, but then again, the previous quarter held one extra event.
Other areas may have seen decreases, but all in all, I think WWE is doing fine. The company is still replacing lost revenues due to its new cable deal, which eliminates advertising revenues in favor of a straight licensing structure. In addition, the price for pay-per-view events has increased $5, which I think the fans will accept over time. There are still four more months in this transition period (the company is changing its fiscal year-end to December) to see how things shake out.
WWE has a tempting yield, a strong brand, a lot of wrestling aficionados, and a great ambition for digitizing and monetizing content through broadband access. Its movie business may not be wowing 'em right now, but give the McMahons time -- they'll score some hits. Hopefully, they'll be able to give big guns like Disney
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