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Press Release: WWE(R) Reports Record 2020 Results and 2021 Business Outlook

· 02/04/2021 16:11
STAMFORD, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--February 04, 2021---- WWE entered into a multi-year WWE Network U.S. licensing agreement (effective March 18, 2021) with Peacock, NBCU's streaming service. This strategic agreement enables WWE to reach a larger audience and realize a greater economic return as compared to a stand-alone subscription service -- WrestleMania will return to Tampa Bay on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium with ticket availability and safety protocols forthcoming -- Management expects restrictions related to the spread of COVID-19, particularly related to the cancellation, postponement or reduced capacity of ticketed live events, to continue at least through the first half of 2021. Additionally, management anticipates a significant year-over-year increase in WWE's expense base due to the return of employees from furlough and continued higher expenses associated with the production of its weekly Raw and SmackDown television content at the WWE ThunderDome from its stadium residence. The Company estimates 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 escalation of core content rights fees, is offset by the increase in personnel and production expenses. Management estimates that the stated 2021 Adjusted OIBDA guidance range would be 15% - 20% higher without the ongoing impact of COVID-19, which includes the loss of ticket and merchandise sales at live events and the increased investment in production to further fan engagement. (See 2021 Business Outlook on page 6 for further information)-- WWE produced live, in-ring content without interruption throughout the year, demonstrating the Company's ability to adapt to COVID-19 and unprecedented industry challenges -- Revenue was $974.2 million, an increase of 1% or $13.8 million as the growth in core content rights fees was largely offset by the loss of ticket revenue and the absence of a large-scale international event -- Operating income was $208.6 million, an increase of 79% or $92.1 million, driven by the substantial rise in content rights fees, which have a high incremental margin -- Adjusted OIBDA reached a record $286.2 million, an increase of 59% or $106.2 million -- Digital video views were 38.0 billion, an increase of 10%, and hours consumed were 1.4 billion, an increase of 10%, across digital and social media platforms3-- Revenue was $238.2 million, a decrease of 26% or $84.6 million, reflecting the absence of the Company's large-scale event in Saudi Arabia and ticketed live events -- Operating income was $36.2 million, a decrease of 64% or $63.6 million -- Adjusted OIBDA1 was $51.2 million, a decrease of 52% or $56.4 million -- WWE transitioned Raw and SmackDown to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay (December 11), and continued to deliver a spectacular interactive experience, WWE ThunderDome, to fans -- WWE Network average paid subscribers2 were 1.5 million, an increase of 6%

WWE(R) Reports Record 2020 Results and 2021 Business Outlook

Fourth Quarter 2020 Highlights*

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

Full Year 2020 Highlights*

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

Full Year 2021 Business Outlook(4)

WWE(R) Reports Record 2020 Results and 2021 Business Outlook

WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2020.

"During the fourth quarter, we continued to produce live content in new ways, which successfully increased audience interaction and engagement," said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. "As we continued to adapt our business to the changing media environment, we completed an important agreement to license WWE Network content to Peacock, which we expect will expand the reach of our brands and enhance the value of our content."

Kristina Salen, WWE Chief Financial Officer, added "For the year, we achieved record revenue and Adjusted OIBDA, which was at the high end of our rescinded guidance. Adjusted OIBDA increased nearly 60% reflecting the full year impact of our new content distribution agreements in the U.S. and comprehensive efforts to contain costs in challenging times. In 2021, we anticipate Adjusted OIBDA of $270 million to $305 million, reflecting the increasing monetization of our content tempered by the ongoing impact of COVID-19."

Fourth-Quarter Consolidated Results*

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

Revenue was $238.2 million, a decrease of 26% or $84.6 million, primarily due to the absence of the Company's large-scale event in Saudi Arabia as well as the absence of ticket and merchandise sales, all resulting from the cancellation, postponement and relocation of live events due to public health concerns related to COVID-19.

Operating Income was $36.2 million, a decrease of 64% or $63.6 million, primarily driven by the absence of events (as described above) and, to a lesser extent, a $7.0 million increase in management incentive compensation and a $6.0 million increase in stock compensation expense related to forfeitures in the prior year period. The Company's Operating income margin decreased to 15.2% from 30.9%.

Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) was $51.2 million, a decrease of 52% or $56.4 million. The Company's Adjusted OIBDA margin decreased to 21.5% from 33.3%.

Net Income was $13.6 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, a decrease from $69.3 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter 2019, primarily reflecting lower operating performance. Current period results also reflected an after-tax loss of $5.8 million related to certain equity investments and $1.0 million in after-tax severance expense resulting from a reduction in force due to COVID-19. Excluding these items, Adjusted Net Income(5) was $20.4 million, or $0.24 per diluted share.

Cash flows generated by operating activities were $62.4 million, a decrease from $119.4 million, driven by lower operating performance.

Free Cash Flow was $56.2 million, a decrease from $106.6 million, primarily due to the change in operating cash flow.(6)

Return of Capital to Shareholders

The Company paid $9.3 million in dividends to shareholders during the fourth quarter 2020. There were no share repurchases under the Company's existing share repurchase program during the fourth quarter 2020.

Full Year 2020 Consolidated Results*

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

Revenue was $974.2 million, an increase of 1% or $13.8 million, as the growth in core content rights fees was largely offset by the loss of live event ticket and merchandise sales as well as the absence of a large-scale event in Saudi Arabia. These losses resulted from the cancellation, postponement and relocation of live events due to public health concerns related to COVID-19 (beginning in mid-March 2020).

Operating Income was $208.6 million, an increase of 79% or $92.1 million, primarily driven by the substantial increase in core content rights fees, which have a high incremental margin. The increase in operating income was partially offset by a $10.0 million increase in management incentive compensation, an $8.5 million increase in depreciation and amortization primarily associated with the Company's workplace strategy, and a $7.0 million increase in severance expense resulting from a reduction in force due to COVID-19. The Company's Operating income margin increased to 21.4% from 12.1%.

Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) was $286.2 million, an increase of $106.2 million or 59%. Adjusted OIBDA excludes the $7.0 million in severance expense (as described above). The Company's Adjusted OIBDA margin increased to 29.4% from 18.7%.

Net Income was $131.8 million, or $1.56 per diluted share, an increase from $77.1 million, or $0.85 per diluted share, in the prior year, primarily due to stronger operating performance partially offset by the impact of the finance lease that commenced in July 2019 related to the Company's new headquarters. Current period results also reflected an after-tax net loss of $4.4 million, driven by impairment charges on certain equity investments partially offset by net realized gains of marketable securities, and $5.4 million in after-tax severance expense (as described above). Excluding these items, Adjusted Net Income(5) was $141.6 million, or $1.68 per diluted share.

Cash flows generated by operating activities were $319.9 million, an increase from $121.7 million, primarily due to changes in working capital and stronger operating performance.

Free Cash Flow was $292.3 million, an increase from $52.6 million, primarily driven by the increase in operating cash flow and, to a lesser extent, a decrease in capital expenditures.(6)

Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were $593 million as of December 31, 2020, which includes $100 million borrowed under the Company's revolving line of credit. Of the $200 million borrowed during the second quarter 2020, $100 million was repaid in the fourth quarter 2020 and the remainder was repaid in January 2021. As a result, the Company currently estimates debt capacity under its revolving line of credit of $200 million.

Return of Capital to Shareholders

The Company paid $37.2 million in dividends to shareholders in 2020. There were no share repurchases under the Company's existing share repurchase program during 2020.

Basis of Presentation

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February 04, 2021 16:11 ET (21:11 GMT)