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WWE First Quarter 2021 Earnings

Posted By: Dustin on Apr 22, 2021

WWE First Quarter 2021 Earnings

WWE have reported their first quarter earnings, and Vince McMahon had commented on the matter. 

“During the first quarter, we continued to effectively execute our strategy, demonstrating our ability to adapt to a challenging live event environment and to expand the reach and monetization of our content in a changing media landscape,” Vince said. “The launch of WWE Network on NBCU’s streaming service, Peacock, the multi-year extension to distribute NXT on USA Network and the successful staging of WrestleMania illustrate the enduring and increasing value of the WWE brand as the foundation for long-term growth.”

And right below is the press statement.

WWE® Reports First Quarter 2021 Results

04/22/2021

First Quarter 2021 Highlights*

* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

– Revenue was $263.5 million, a decrease of 9% or $27.5 million, reflecting the absence of the Company’s ticketed live events and a large-scale international event, partially offset by the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights
– Operating income was $65.1 million, an increase of 22% or $11.8 million, as the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights was partially offset by the absence of a large-scale international event
– Adjusted OIBDA1 was $83.9 million, an increase of 9% or $6.6 million
– WWE Network launched on Peacock, NBCU’s streaming service, in the U.S. on March 18, expanding the reach of WWE’s premium content, including live pay-per-views, original series and in-ring shows
– WWE transitioned Raw and SmackDown to the Yuengling Center in Tampa Bay (effective April 12), and continued to deliver a spectacular interactive experience, WWE ThunderDome, to fans
– WWE announced a multi-year extension with USA Network for NXT, which moved the airing of its two-hour, live show to Tuesday nights (effective April 13)
– Digital video views were 9.4 billion, a decrease of 2%, and hours consumed were 367 million, an increase of 7%, across digital and social platforms2
– Return of capital to shareholders (share repurchases and dividends paid) totaled $84.2 million in 1Q21

WrestleMania Highlights (April 10-11, 2021)*

* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

– WrestleMania was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida over two consecutive sold-out nights in front of a combined 51,350 fans. WrestleMania was the first WWE live event with a ticketed audience to take place since the COVID-19 outbreak more than one year ago
– WWE set WrestleMania Week viewership records with nearly 1.1 billion video views across digital and social platforms, representing a 14% increase from the prior year. A record of nearly 32 million hours of content was consumed during the week, an increase of 9% from the prior year3

STAMFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2021.

“During the first quarter, we continued to effectively execute our strategy, demonstrating our ability to adapt to a challenging live event environment and to expand the reach and monetization of our content in a changing media landscape,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “The launch of WWE Network on NBCU’s streaming service, Peacock, the multi-year extension to distribute NXT on USA Network and the successful staging of WrestleMania illustrate the enduring and increasing value of the WWE brand as the foundation for long-term growth.”

Kristina Salen, WWE Chief Financial Officer, added “In the quarter, Adjusted OIBDA results were driven by the recognition of revenue from our Peacock agreement. Although Adjusted OIBDA increased in the quarter, we are not adjusting our previous full year Adjusted OIBDA guidance of $270 million to $305 million at this time, given the uncertainty regarding the timing and pace of return for ticketed audiences and our ability to stage international large-scale events due to COVID-19 restrictions.”

First-Quarter Consolidated Results*

* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

Revenue was $263.5 million, a decrease of 9% or $27.5 million, primarily due to the cancellation of the Company’s live events, including a large-scale international event, and the associated loss of merchandise sales, all due to COVID-19. These declines were partially offset by an increase in network revenue, which was primarily driven by the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights, and, to a lesser extent, the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees.

Operating Income was $65.1 million, an increase of 22% or $11.8 million, as upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights and, to a lesser extent, the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees as well as a decrease in stock compensation expense were partially offset by the absence of a large-scale international event. The change in stock compensation expense increased the growth rate in Operating Income as compared to the growth rate in Adjusted OIBDA. The Company’s Operating income margin increased to 24.7% from 18.3%.

Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) was $83.9 million, an increase of 9% or $6.6 million, as the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights and, to a lesser extent, the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees, were partially offset by the absence of a large-scale international event. The Company’s Adjusted OIBDA margin increased to 31.8% from 26.6%.

Net Income was $43.8 million, or $0.51 per diluted share, an increase from $26.2 million, or $0.31 per diluted share, in the first quarter 2020, primarily reflecting improved operating performance and, to a lesser extent, the absence of impairment charges related to certain equity investments.

Cash flows generated by operating activities were $59.9 million, a decrease from $65.9 million, as improved operating performance was more than offset by the timing of collections associated with Network revenue.

Free Cash Flow was $53.8 million, a decrease from $57.6 million, primarily due to the change in operating cash flow, partially offset by a reduction in capital expenditures.4

Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were $461 million as of March 31, 2021, which reflects the repayment of the remaining $100 million borrowed under the Company’s revolving line of credit during the second quarter 2020. As a result, the Company estimates debt capacity under its currently undrawn revolving line of credit of $200 million.

Return of Capital to Shareholders

The Company returned $84.2 million to shareholders in the first quarter 2021, including $75.0 million in share repurchases and $9.2 million in dividends paid. Under the Company’s existing share repurchase program nearly 1.5 million shares were repurchased at an average price of $50.07 per share, resulting in approximately $342 million remaining available for repurchase. WWE intends to continue opportunistic repurchases under the program.

Basis of Presentation

For the first quarter ending March 31, 2020, the Company’s pre-tax results included $11.5 million in impairment charges related to certain equity investments. The Company did not record any impairment charges related to these investments during the quarter ended March 31, 2021. A reconciliation of Net Income to Adjusted Net Income for the three-month periods ended March 31, 2021 and 2020 can be found in the supplemental schedule on page 13 of this release.

Results by Operating Segment*

* (All comparisons are versus the prior year period unless stated otherwise)

Media

First-Quarter 2021

Revenue was $242.0 million, a decrease of 6% or $14.6 million, primarily driven by the absence of the Company’s large-scale international event as reflected in Other media revenue. The decline in media revenue was partially offset by an increase in network revenue, driven by the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights, and, to a lesser extent, content license fees associated with the delivery of new WWE Network content as well as the contractual escalation of domestic core content rights fees for the Company’s flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown.

Operating income was $97.1 million, an increase of 9% or $7.8 million, primarily due to changes in product mix as increased network and core content rights fees revenue had higher incremental margins than that of the lost revenue associated with the Company’s large-scale international event.

Adjusted OIBDA was $106.6 million, representing an increase of 4% or $4.0 million.

Live Events

First-Quarter 2021

Revenue was $0.5 million, a decrease of 97% or $17.0 million, driven by a decline in ticket sales primarily due to the absence of live events in North America, where 41 events were held in the first quarter 2020.

Operating income reflected a loss of $4.5 million, representing an increased loss of 41% or $1.3 million, due to the impact of cancelled events (as described above).

Adjusted OIBDA reflected a loss of $4.3 million, representing an increased loss of 65% or $1.7 million.

Consumer Products

First-Quarter 2021

Revenue was $21.0 million, an increase of 24% or $4.1 million, reflecting increased eCommerce merchandise sales and higher video game royalties. Increased eCommerce sales more than offset the absence of venue merchandise sales resulting from the absence of ticketed events in the quarter (as described above).

Operating income was $6.2 million, an increase of 114% or $3.3 million, reflecting an increase in revenue (as described above).

Adjusted OIBDA was $6.7 million, representing an increase of 76% or $2.9 million.

Business Outlook5

In January, the Company issued guidance for 2021 Adjusted OIBDA. As previously discussed, the Company estimated it can achieve 2021 Adjusted OIBDA of $270 – $305 million as revenue growth, driven by the impact of the Peacock transaction, the gradual ramp-up of ticketed live events, including large-scale international events, and the contractual escalation of core content rights fees, is offset by the increase in personnel and television production expenses. The Company is not changing full year guidance at this time. While first quarter 2021 results were up on a year-over-year basis, they were largely driven by the impact of the WWE Network-Peacock licensing agreement, including the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights, and therefore should not extend into future quarters. Additionally, the guidance range remains highly dependent upon the Company’s ability to stage live events, including large-scale international events.

You can click here for the full press release and earnings report on the WWE Corporate website.


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