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WWE's stock plunges after swinging to loss, surprise decline in revenue

Tomi Kilgore

Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. plunged 11% in premarket trade Thursday, after the media and live entertainment company reported a wider-than-expected first-quarter loss and a surprise decline in revenue. The company swung to a net loss of $8.4 million, or 11 cents a share, from a profit of $14.8 million, or 18 cents a share, in the year-ago period. The FactSet consensus was for a loss of 2 cents a share. Revenue fell to $182.4 million from $187.7 million, a 2.8% decline, while the FactSet consensus was for an increase to $199.0 million, as the increased monetization of content was more than offset by a reduction in live event ticket revenue and lower merchandise sales. Media revenue rose 1.5% to $135.4 million but missed the FactSet consensus of $143.1 million; live events revenue fell 15% to $26.2 million, below expectations of a 2.3% rise to $31.5 million; consumer products revenue declined 11.5% to $20.8 million, missing expectations of 3.8% growth to $24.4 million. The company said the absence of several Superstar talent hurt audience engagement, as U.S. TV ratings of "Raw" declined 14% and of "SmackDown" dropped 13%. The stock, which closed at a record high as recently as Tuesday, has soared 32% year to date through Wednesday, while the S&P 500 has gained 17%.