WWE 2013 First Quarter Results

May 2, 2013 - by Steve Gerweck

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WWE (NYSE:WWE) today announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2013. Revenues totaled $124.0 million as compared to $123.1 million in the prior year quarter. Operating income was $6.1 million as compared to $16.0 million in the prior year quarter. Net income was $3.0 million, or $0.04 per share, as compared to $15.3 million, or $0.20 per share, in the prior year quarter. Excluding items that impacted comparability on a year-over-year basis, Adjusted Operating income was $7.4 million as compared to $16.8 million in the prior year quarter, and Adjusted Net income was $3.9 million, or $0.05 per share, as compared to $11.7 million, or $0.16 per share, in the prior year quarter. On an “As Reported” basis, the performance of a recent movie release resulted in increased film impairment charges, which were a significant component of the decline in first quarter earnings. Excluding the impact of these charges and a net positive impact from the transition to a new video game licensee, the decline in Adjusted Operating income reflected investments in content production, including talent and staff costs, lower profits from Home Entertainment and lower sales of licensed products. The investments support the company’s long-term growth objectives. “Adjusted” earnings also declined due to an increase in the effective tax-rate.

“In the first quarter, our performance reflected investments to enhance our brand strength, which we view as a critical determinant of our long-term growth,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Operating metrics such as pay-per-view buys and live event attendance, which are key leading indicators, continued to show improvement. Demonstrating the ongoing demand for WWE content, we successfully staged WrestleMania in April, which attracted more than 80,000 fans and is expected to deliver more than one million pay-per-view buys globally, ranking the event as the highest grossing and most profitable pay-per-view event in our history. Looking ahead, we are confident that we can leverage this demand to transform our business.”

“Several anticipated factors contributed to the decline in our first quarter OIBDA results, which – while down – were essentially in-line with our guidance. These factors included investments in our content production and talent, lower profits from home entertainment and weakness in international licensing sales,” added George Barrios, Chief Financial Officer. “Based on our assessment of these factors, we continue to believe that our results, excluding the impact of the film impairment associated with Dead Man Down, will fall within the range previously communicated, which was ‘plus or minus 10 percent’ from our 2012 OIBDA results.”

Comparability of Results

During the three months ended March 31, 2013, we changed our measure of segment profit (loss) to operating income (loss) before depreciation and amortization (“OIBDA”). We believe the presentation of OIBDA is useful for investors because it allows them to view WWE’s segment performance in the same manner as the primary method used by management to evaluate performance and to make decisions on the allocation of resources. The Company defines OIBDA as operating income (loss) before depreciation and amortization, excluding feature film amortization and film impairments. A portion of selling, general and administrative expenses is included in our reported segments. Unallocated SG&A, as shown herein, includes certain SG&A expenses that are not allocated to our reported segments, and corporate overhead. In describing WWE’s overall results, the calculation of “OIBDA” generates the same results previously described by the Company’s definition of “EBITDA.” (Additional information on the definition and use of “OIBDA” can be found in our Form 10-Q filing with the SEC.)

Our OIBDA results for the first quarter 2013 included a $4.7 million film impairment charge and an approximate $3.4 million positive impact from the transition of our video game to a new licensee. Results for the prior year quarter included a $0.8 million film impairment charge and a $4.1 million benefit due to previously unrecognized tax benefits. In order to facilitate an analysis of our financial results on a more comparable basis, where noted, we have adjusted our results to exclude these items. (See Schedule of Adjustments in Supplemental Information). The operating results above also include network-related operating expenses of $2.6 million in the current year quarter and $2.1 million in the prior year quarter, which were not adjusted in the aforementioned schedules.

Three Months Ended March 31, 2013 – Results by Region and Business Segment

Revenues of $124.0 million were essentially flat to the prior year quarter as growth from North America was offset by declines across WWE’s international markets. Revenues from North America increased 5% from the prior year quarter predominantly due to the licensing of new television programs and digital content, the strong performance of our Pay-Per-View operations, and an increase in the number of domestic live events, which more than offset lower revenues from our movie business. Revenues from outside North America declined 13% primarily due to an anticipated reduction in the number of live events, lower revenue from home entertainment, as well as weaker sales of licensed products.

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