Forces WWE Executives to Tap Out After Earnings Slip - 31st January 2020
Wrestling Entertainment Inc. ousted two of its top executives after 2019 earnings
came in at the low end of estimates, a shake-up that has rattled investor confidence
in the pro-wrestling giant.
of WWE plunged as much as 24% to $47.50 in extended trading after the company
announced the departure of Co-Presidents George Barrios and Michelle Wilson, effective
Riddick, a board member for more than 11 years, has been named interim chief financial
officer, WWE said Thursday. Hell report to Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer Vince McMahon, the billionaire who often serves as the face of the company.
board and I decided a change was necessary, McMahon said in a statement.
We have different views on how best to achieve our strategic priorities.
reshuffling follows a difficult stretch for WWE, whose stock was crowned only
two years ago by KeyBanc Capital Markets as one to own in media.
a string of negative headlines in 2019, investors had grown concerned about both
WWEs upcoming contract renewals and a public-relations fallout surrounding
the treatment of its wrestlers.
reports had hinted that management was struggling to renew distribution contracts
overseas, including international deals in key regions such as the Middle East.
And earlier in the year, John Oliver, the comedian and late-night talk show host,
had criticized WWEs McMahon in a segment on Last Week Tonight.
more: WWE Plunges Most Since 2014 as Delayed TV Deal Slams Forecast
said that wrestlers were dying at a faster rate than professional football players,
and that WWE failed to provide health insurance because the company deemed its
talent independent contractors. WWE later rebuffed Olivers assertions, pointing
to its longstanding talent wellness initiative. The program offers
wrestlers a yearly physical and testing for brain function and substance abuse.
recent months, Wall Street had seemed to grow more optimistic about WWE -- following
the expansion of a live event partnership in Saudi Arabia and an agreement with
Fox Corp. to air Friday Night Smackdown in the U.S.
programming, encouraging long-term TV contracts and relatively predictable revenue
alongside cash flow growth makes the company well positioned, Alan
Gould, an analyst at Loop Capital Markets, said in a note last month.
90% of analysts on Wall Street recommend a buy-equivalent rating on the stock,
according to data compiled by Bloomberg. And some of the companys initiatives,
like its streaming-based WWE Network, appear promising.
the Stamford, Connecticut-based company offered a dimmer outlook on Thursday.
It now expects to report 2019 adjusted earnings of $180 million, down from as
much $190 million as previously forecast. The new projection trails the nearly
$186.6 million that consensus estimates were calling for.
is scheduled to release its final results on Feb. 6.
company is working to re-energize fans with new talent -- and some well-known
names from the past.
Hulk Hogan Bollea, arguably the biggest star to come out of the wrestling
industry next to Dwayne The Rock Johnson, is making a bid for a comeback
is right around the corner Brother! Hogan, 65, teased in a social media
post this month on Twitter.
McMahon will need more than wrestling veterans to get the company back on track.
executive said Thursday that WWE is up to the challenge.
board and I have great confidence in our collective abilities to create compelling
content, engage our global fan base across platforms, increase revenues and drive
shareholder value, he said.
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