WWE released their fourth quarter and full year 2018 earnings report and announced that 2018 had the “highest level of revenue and earnings in the company’s history.”
The average number of paid subscribers to WWE Network was up 7% over the same quarter last year to 1.59 million.
WWE stock was up 3.17% today to $82.29 per share at the time of this report.
Fourth Quarter 2018 Highlights
- Revenues increased 29% to $272.5 million as compared to the prior year quarter
- Operating income nearly doubled to $53.4 million from $27.0 million in the prior year quarter
- Adjusted OIBDA increased 57% to $64.4 million, exceeding Company guidance and representing an all-time record quarter
- WWE Network average paid subscribers increased 7% to approximately 1.59 million paid subscribers, consistent with Company guidance
Full Year 2018 Highlights
- Revenue increased 16% to $930.2 million, the highest in the Company’s history
- Operating income increased 51% to a record of $114.5 million
- Adjusted OIBDA increased 31% to $178.9 million, exceeding Company guidance and representing all-time record performance for the second consecutive year
- International revenue increased 58% to $317.8 million from $201.3 million in the prior year, the highest in the Company’s history and the first-time international revenue has exceeded $300 million
- WWE completed agreements with USA Network (NBCU) and Fox Sports, effective October 1, 2019, which increase the average annual value (AAV) of its U.S. distribution to 3.6 times that of the prior deal
- Produced new, large-scale international events (Greatest Royal Rumble, Crown Jewel and Super Show-Down) and compelling content across platforms, including the first all-women’s pay-per-view, WWE Evolution (WWE Network) and the launch of Miz & Mrs. (USA Network)
- Digital engagement continued to grow with video views up 57% to 31.4 billion and hours consumed up 77% to 1.2 billion across digital and social media platforms
STAMFORD, Conn., February 7, 2019 – WWE (NYSE: WWE) today announced financial results for its fourth quarter ended December 31, 2018.
“In 2018, WWE generated the highest level of revenue and earnings in the Company’s history by leveraging our brand strength to increase the monetization of our content worldwide,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Our long-term growth strategy will continue to focus on content creation, digitization and international development.”
George Barrios, WWE Co-President, added “We increased revenue by nearly $130 million, and achieved a record level of Adjusted OIBDA and network subscribers. We expect to balance 2019 revenue growth with investment in strategic areas that extend the moat around our business, enabling us to continue our business transformation and maximize shareholder value.”
Fourth-Quarter Consolidated Results
Revenues increased 29% to $272.5 million from the prior year quarter primarily driven by the increased monetization of content and, to a lesser extent, an $8.1 million favorable impact on licensing revenue due to the adoption of the new FASB standard for revenue recognition (ASC Topic 606).
Operating Income nearly doubled to $53.4 million from $27.0 million in the prior year quarter driven by increased profits from the Media segment. The Company’s Operating income margin increased to 20% from 13% in the prior year quarter.
Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) increased 57% to $64.4 million as compared to $41.0 million in the prior year quarter. The Company’s Adjusted OIBDA margin increased to 24% from 19%.
Net Income was $41.2 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, as compared to $4.8 million, or $0.06 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2017. This increase was primarily driven by improved operating performance and the impact of a one-time charge of $11.3 million in the prior year quarter due to the re-measurement of our deferred tax assets as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the “Tax Act”), which was enacted in December 2017.
Effective Tax Rate declined to 23% from 80% in the prior year quarter, where the latter reflected the tax impact of the $11.3 million charge noted above. Additionally, the year-over-year decline in the effective tax rate reflected the impact of the Tax Act, which reduced the federal corporate income tax rate to 21% from 35%.
Cash flows generated by operating activities reached $65.2 million and Free Cash Flow totaled $54.3 million as compared to $55.6 million and $48.6 million, respectively, in the prior year quarter.4 The growth in both measures was primarily due to improved operating performance, partially offset by the timing of working capital.
Full Year 2018 Consolidated Results
For the twelve months ended December 31, 2018, revenues increased 16% to $930.2 million from $801.0 million primarily driven by growth in the Media segment. Operating income increased 51% to $114.5 million from $75.6 million, driven primarily by the growth in revenue (net of related operating expenses), which was partially offset by higher staff-related costs, including management incentive compensation and stock compensation resulting from improved operating performance and the rise in the Company’s stock price. Adjusted OIBDA increased 31% to $178.9 million from $136.1 million. Net income increased to $99.6 million ($1.12 per diluted share) from $32.6 million ($0.42 per diluted share) in the prior year period.
Cash flows generated by operating activities reached $186.7 million and Free Cash Flow totaled $154.4 million as compared to $96.6 million and $71.9 million, respectively, in the prior year period. The growth in both measures was primarily due to improved operating performance.
Cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments were approximately $360 million as of December 31, 2018, and the Company estimates debt capacity under its revolving line of credit of approximately $100 million.