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WWE returns to a profit in its 4th quarter

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- WWE returned to a profit in its fourth quarter partly because of lower impairment charges with no feature films released by its WWE Studios.

The company, formerly known as World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., also said Thursday that it may double or triple its 2012 earnings before taxes, depreciation and amortization by 2015 with the help of such potential efforts as the launch of its own television network.

WWE earned $600,000, or 1 cent per share, in the quarter. That compares with a loss of $8.6 million, or 12 cents per share, a year earlier.

The current quarter included a film impairment charge of $500,000. The year-ago period included $12.2 million in film impairment charges.

Taking out the charge and other items, earnings were 2 cents per share.

Revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31 climbed 2 percent to $115.1 million from $112.9 million as North American revenue increased 12 percent.

Revenue from outside North America fell 21 percent mostly because of an expected decline in the number of live events.

At WWE Studios, revenue dropped to $600,000 from $4.3 million. There were no feature films released in the quarter, while the prior-year period included the release of "The Reunion."

For the year, WWE earned $31.4 million, or 42 cents per share. That's up from $24.8 million, or 33 cents per share, in the previous year.

Adjusted earnings were 51 cents per share.

Annual revenue rose slightly to $484 million from $483.9 million.

Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon said the company may be able to significantly increase its earnings with the launch of a WWE network in the U.S. and in overseas markets, renewing big content agreements and developing digital products such as mobile games.

The Stamford, Conn., company said it is assessing various approaches to the potential WWE network and believes that a premium subscription would be the best approach in the U.S., with a proposed monthly price between $12.99 and $14.99.

WWE said that if it does launch a network within a year, it could possibly lower its 2013 net income by $3 million to $10 million from 2012's $31.4 million. The company said this decline would occur because the initial ramp in subscribers and revenue would probably not be enough to offset the expenses related to a network launch.

Shares of WWE, which produces wrestling events such as WrestleMania and television shows such as Raw and SmackDown, added 3 cents to $8.55 in morning trading.