WWE reports record first quarter 2022 financial results
WWE sent out the following press release…
WWE® Reports Record First Quarter 2022 Results
First Quarter 2022 Highlights
Revenue was $333.4 million, an increase of 27% and a quarterly record; Operating Income was $92.4 million, an increase of 42%; and Adjusted OIBDA1 was $111.7 million, an increase of 33% and a quarterly record
Returned capital to shareholders totaling $38.9 million, including share repurchases and dividends paid
Announced a multi-year expansion of the Company’s original programming partnership with A&E that includes more than 130 new hours of premium WWE-themed series and specials
Announced a broadcast partnership with MBC Group, the largest and leading group in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, to air WWE premium live events, live episodes of Raw and SmackDown as well as WWE Network’s vast library of content
Announced a comprehensive, long-term partnership with Fanatics to create a new, enhanced digital platform for e-commerce and licensed merchandise, as well as physical, digital, and non-fungible token (NFT) trading cards
WWE 2K22, the latest installment of the Company’s flagship video game franchise, was released to strong consumer demand and rave reviews
WrestleMania Highlights (April 2-3, 2022)
WrestleMania was held at AT&T Stadium in Dallas over two consecutive nights in front of a combined 156,352 fans. WrestleMania was WWE’s highest-grossing and most-attended event in company history
WrestleMania was the most viewed WWE premium live event of all time. Global unique viewership increased 54% and domestic unique viewership increased 61% year-over-year
WrestleMania was the second most viewed event on Peacock to date, behind only Super Bowl LVI
WrestleMania generated 2.2 billion social media impressions, more than the 1.8 billion impressions generated by Super Bowl LVI
WrestleMania viewership in India was a record 56.1 million, a 29% increase year-over-year
2022 Business Outlook2
The Company reaffirms its expectations for 2022, which assume ticketed audiences at the Company’s live events for the full year, and target record revenue and an Adjusted OIBDA range of $360 – $375 million, which would be an all-time record. This range of anticipated performance reflects the continued ramp-up of live events, including large-scale international events, and increased monetization of content, partially offset by increased production, content-related, and other expenses.
STAMFORD, Conn., May 5, 2022 – WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2022.
“We are off to a strong start in 2022, highlighted by record quarterly revenue and Adjusted OIBDA,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We continued to effectively execute our strategy, including staging the most stupendous WrestleMania ever in early April. WrestleMania, as well as our other successful premium live events such as Day 1, Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, further expanded the reach of our brands and enhanced the value of our content as evidenced by increased ticket revenue and viewership. We continue to monetize our intellectual property across various platforms through our media rights agreements, both domestically and abroad, as well as through the monetization of new original series, including our expanded partnership with A&E.”
Frank Riddick, WWE Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, added “In the quarter, we exceeded the high end of our guidance. Adjusted OIBDA increased 33% reflecting 27% revenue growth. Our strong financial performance was primarily driven by our return to a full live event schedule, including the staging of a successful large-scale international event. These items more than offset the absence of one-time upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights in the prior year period.”
First-Quarter Consolidated Results
Revenue increased 27% to $333.4 million, primarily due to the timing of a large-scale international event as well as higher ticket sales due to the return of ticketed audiences at our live events. These increases were partially offset by a decline in network revenues primarily due to the impact of upfront revenue recognition in the prior year quarter related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights.
Operating Income increased 42%, or $27.3 million, to $92.4 million, driven by the increase in revenue partially offset by an increase in operating expenses. The increase in operating expenses was primarily driven by return to live event touring, including the timing of a large-scale international event, partially offset by lower television production costs associated with the creation of the Company’s weekly, in-ring content. In the prior year period, WWE produced its weekly, televised programs utilizing the higher cost environment of WWE ThunderDome at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Florida. The Company’s operating income margin increased to 28% from 25%.
Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) increased 33%, or $27.8 million, to $111.7 million. The Company’s adjusted OIBDA margin increased to 34% from 32%.
Net Income was $66.1 million, or $0.77 per diluted share, an increase from $43.8 million, or $0.51 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2021, primarily reflecting higher operating performance.
Cash flows generated by operating activities were $95.5 million, an increase from $59.9 million, primarily due to the timing of collections associated with WWE Network revenue and, to a lesser extent, higher net income. These increases were partially offset by the increased payout of management incentive compensation.
Free Cash Flow3 was $74.0 million, an increase from $53.8 million, primarily due to the change in operating cash flow, partially offset by an increase in capital expenditures.4 For the three months ended March 31, 2022, the Company incurred $13.1 million of capital expenditures related to its new headquarter facility. Excluding the capital expenditures related to the new headquarter facility, Free Cash Flow for the three months ended March 31, 2022 was $87.1 million.
Return of Capital to Shareholders
The Company returned $38.9 million to shareholders in the first quarter of 2022, including $30.0 million in share repurchases and $8.9 million in dividends paid. Under the Company’s existing stock repurchase program, approximately 525,000 shares were repurchased at an average price of $57.21 per share. As of March 31, 2022, the Company had $221 million available under its $500 million stock repurchase authorization.
Results by Operating Segment
The schedules below reflect WWE’s performance by operating segment (in millions):1
Three Months Ended
Media $ 278.1 $ 242.0 Live Events 23.1 0.5 Consumer Products 32.2 21.0 Total Net Revenue $ 333.4 $ 263.5
Operating Income (Loss):
Media $ 117.4 $ 97.1 Live Events 2.0 (4.5) Consumer Products 11.2 6.2 Corporate (38.2) (33.7) Total Operating Income $ 92.4 $ 65.1
Media $ 128.2 $ 106.6 Live Events 2.8 (4.3) Consumer Products 11.9 6.7 Corporate (31.2) (25.1) Total Adjusted OIBDA $ 111.7 $ 83.9
Revenue increased 15%, or $36.1 million, to $278.1 million, primarily due to the timing of a large-scale international event and, to a lesser extent, an increase in domestic media rights fees related to the Company’s flagship programs and premium events. These factors were partially offset by the upfront revenue recognition in the prior year quarter related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights.
Three Months Ended
Network (a) $ 56.3 $ 79.4 Core content rights fees (b) 141.5 139.7 Advertising and sponsorship (c) 19.8 15.6 Other (d) 60.5 7.3 Total Revenue $ 278.1 $ 242.0
(a) Network revenue consists primarily of license fees associated with the distribution of WWE Network content on the Peacock service in the U.S. (effective March 18, 2021), as well as subscription fees from customers of WWE Network and license fees associated with the Company’s international licensed partner agreements. Network revenue for the three-month period ended March 31, 2021, includes the upfront revenue recognition related to the delivery of certain WWE Network intellectual property rights to Peacock.
(b) Core content rights fees consist primarily of licensing revenue from the distribution of the Company’s flagship programs, Raw and SmackDown, as well as its NXT programming, through global broadcast, pay television and digital platforms.
(c) Advertising and sponsorship revenue within the Media segment consists primarily of advertising revenue from the Company’s content on third-party social media platforms and sponsorship fees from sponsors who promote products utilizing the Company’s media platforms, including promotion on the Company’s digital websites and on-air promotional media spots.
(d) Other revenue within the Media segment reflects revenue from the distribution of other WWE content, including, but not limited to, certain live in-ring programming content in international markets, scripted, reality and other programming, as well as theatrical and direct-to-home video releases
Operating income increased 21%, or $20.3 million, to $117.4 million, primarily driven by the increase in revenue (as described above) partially offset by an increase in operating expenses. The increase in operating expenses was primarily driven by the timing of a large-scale international event, partially offset by lower television production costs associated with the creation of the Company’s weekly, in-ring content.
Adjusted OIBDA increased 20%, or $21.6 million, to $128.2 million.
Revenue was $23.1 million, an increase of $22.6 million, driven by the resumption of ticket sales as the Company returned to staging ticketed live events. There were 53 total ticketed live events in the current quarter, consisting of 52 events in North America and 1 event in international markets. Average attendance at the Company’s North America events was approximately 5,700.
Three Months Ended
Live Events Revenue:
North American ticket sales $ 19.9 $ — International ticket sales — — Advertising and sponsorship (e) 1.1 — Other (f) 2.1 0.5
Total Revenue $ 23.1 $ 0.5
(e) Advertising and sponsorship revenue consists primarily of fees from advertisers and sponsors that promote products utilizing the Company’s live events (i.e., presenting sponsor of fan engagement events and advertising signage at events).
(f) Other Live Events includes revenue from the sale of travel packages associated with the Company’s global live events, commissions earned through secondary ticketing, and revenue from events for which the Company receives a fixed fee
Operating income increased to $2.0 million as compared to an operating loss of $4.5 million, as the increase in ticket sales (as described above) was partially offset by an increase in event-related expenses.
Adjusted OIBDA increased to $2.8 million as compared to a loss of $4.3 million.
Revenue increased 53%, or $11.2 million, to $32.2 million, primarily due to higher sales of the Company’s licensed video games, including our franchise game WWE 2K22, as well as higher venue merchandise sales driven by the return to ticketed live events. These items were partially offset by a decrease in eCommerce merchandise sales due, in part, to a difficult comparison to elevated Covid-related sales in the prior year period.
Three Months Ended
Consumer Products Revenue:
Consumer product licensing $ 20.0 $ 11.0 eCommerce 7.7 10.0 Venue merchandise 4.5 — Total Revenue $ 32.2 $ 21.0
Operating income increased 83%, or $5.0 million, to $11.2 million, reflecting the increase in revenue (as described above) partially offset by an increase in certain variable costs, including higher costs related to global supply chain constraints.
Adjusted OIBDA increased 78%, or $5.2 million, to $11.9 million.
2022 Business Outlook2
In February, the Company issued its outlook for 2022 Adjusted OIBDA. The Company reaffirms its expectations for 2022, which assume ticketed audiences at the Company’s live events for the full year, and target record revenue and an Adjusted OIBDA range of $360 – $375 million, which would be an all time record. This range of anticipated performance reflects the continued ramp-up of live events, including large-scale international events, and increased monetization of content, partially offset by increased production, content-related, and other expenses.
Second Quarter 2022 Business Outlook2
The Company estimates second quarter 2022 Adjusted OIBDA of $80 – $90 million, which represents an increase of approximately 17% – 32% from the prior year quarter. The estimate reflects strong revenue growth from the impact of WWE’s return to live event touring (which did not occur in the prior year quarter) and the contractual escalation of domestic media rights fees for the Company’s flagship programs and premium events. The Company also anticipates that second quarter results will reflect an increase in operating expenses.
(1) The definition of Adjusted OIBDA can be found in the Non-GAAP Measures section of the release on page 7. A reconciliation of Operating Income to Adjusted OIBDA for the three-month periods ended March 31, 2022 and 2021 can be found in the Supplemental Information in this release on page 13.
(2) The Company’s business model and expected results will continue to be subject to significant execution and other risks, including risks relating to the impact of COVID-19 on WWE’s business, results of operations and financial condition; entering, maintaining and renewing major distribution agreements; WWE Network; uncertainties associated with international markets and risks inherent in large live events, and other risk factors disclosed in our annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021. In addition, WWE is unable to provide a reconciliation of second quarter or full year 2022 guidance to GAAP measures as, at this time, WWE cannot accurately determine all of the adjustments that would be required. See Supplemental Information in this release on page 14.
(3) A reconciliation of Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities to Free Cash Flow for the three-month periods ended March 31, 2022 and 2021 can be found in the Supplemental Information in this release on page 15.
The Company defines Adjusted OIBDA as operating income excluding depreciation and amortization, stock-based compensation expense, certain impairment charges and other non-recurring material items that otherwise would impact the comparability of results between periods. Adjusted OIBDA includes amortization and depreciation expenses directly related to supporting the operations of our segments, including content production asset amortization, depreciation and amortization of costs related to content delivery and technology assets utilized for the WWE Network, as well as amortization of right-of-use assets related to finance leases of equipment used to produce and broadcast our live events. The Company believes the presentation of Adjusted OIBDA is relevant and useful for investors because it allows them to view the Company’s segment performance in the same manner as the primary method used by management to evaluate segment performance and to make decisions regarding the allocation of resources. Additionally, the Company believes that Adjusted OIBDA is a primary measure used by media investors, analysts and peers for comparative purposes.
Adjusted OIBDA is a non-GAAP financial measure and may be different from similarly titled non-GAAP financial measures used by other companies. WWE views operating income as the most directly comparable GAAP measure. Adjusted OIBDA (and other non-GAAP measures such as Adjusted Operating Income, Adjusted Net Income and Adjusted EPS which are defined as the GAAP measures excluding certain nonrecurring, material items that impact the comparability between periods) should not be considered in isolation from, or as a substitute for, operating income, net income, EPS or other GAAP measures, such as operating cash flow, as an indicator of operating performance or liquidity.
The Company defines Free Cash Flow as net cash provided by operating activities less cash used for capital expenditures. WWE views net cash provided by operating activities as the most directly comparable GAAP measure. Although it is not a recognized measure of liquidity under U.S. GAAP, Free Cash Flow provides useful information regarding the amount of cash WWE’s continuing business generates after capital expenditures and is available for reinvesting in the business, debt service, share repurchases and payment of dividends.
As previously announced WWE will host a conference call at 5:00 p.m. ET on May 5, 2022, to discuss its first quarter 2022 results. All interested parties are welcome to listen to a live webcast that will be hosted through the Company’s website at corporate.wwe.com/investors. Participants can access the conference call by dialing 1-855-200-4993 (toll free) or 1-323-794-2092 from outside the U.S. (conference ID for both lines: 9020389). Please reserve a line 5-10 minutes prior to the start time of the conference call.
The earnings presentation referenced during the call will be made available on May 5, 2022, at corporate.wwe.com/investors. A replay of the call will be available approximately two hours after the conference call concludes and can be accessed on the Company’s website.
Additional business metrics are made available to investors on the corporate website – corporate.wwe.com/investors.