World Wrestling Entertainment
The company's recent fourth quarter yielded $118.3 million in revenues and net income of $16.1 million ($0.23 per share). That's down from revenues of $126.7 million and net income of $19.7 million ($0.28 per share) last year. Fiscal 2005 saw revenues of $366.4 million and net income of $39.1 million ($0.56 per share), compared to fiscal 2004 revenues of $374.9 million and net income of $48.2 million ($0.70 per share).
Reading through the release shows various weak spots, including lesser buy-rates for certain pay-per-view events and tough comparisons within the home video segment. While Wrestlemania 21 was a bright spot, it couldn't turn a grim earnings picture into a pretty portrait.
That said, CEO Linda McMahon highlighted some interesting initiatives in the release as hopeful beacons for the future. I've already written about a couple of them: the WWE's film-production slate and increased promotion for its legendary wrestlers. In addition, WWE notes a planned subscription video-on-demand product, its return to the USA cable network, and the potential for brand expansion internationally. I'm inclined to agree with McMahon; these projects and marketing assets are substantial value-added propositions worth looking forward to.
Of course, I also understand what's troubling individual investors: WWE's stock has definitely been pinned to the mat. It might surprise casual observers to learn that the company actually pays a dividend. At an indicated $0.48 per share annually, the current yield is more than 4% -- a good incentive for shareholders to have patience with the stock. But this quarter's 50% drop in free cash flow (FCF) won't have income investors striking a victory pose any time soon.
Even so, I believe that on a long-term basis, the initiatives being pursued should bear fruit as they expand the WWE's earnings ability. Once wrestling is back in vogue, the cash should truly pour in.
Grapple with more wrestling Foolishness:
Don't be shy, wrestling fans -- sound off with your opinions at the Fool's WWE discussion board.
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