WWE today announced financial results for its fourth quarter and year ended December 31, 2021.
“In 2021, we reached a significant milestone of over $1 billion in revenue, for the first time in the Company’s history. We ended the year with strong performance across each of our business lines that reflected the engagement of a wider audience with distribution on new digital platforms, including Peacock, and the return of fans at our live events,” said Vince McMahon, WWE Chairman & CEO. “We expect the execution of key initiatives in the coming year, such as the licensing of network content in international markets, monetization of new original series, and the continued shift to a stadium strategy for WWE’s premium live events, will further expand the reach of our brands and enhance the value of our content.”
Frank Riddick, WWE Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, added “For the year, we achieved record revenue and Adjusted OIBDA, which exceeded the high end of our guidance. Adjusted OIBDA increased 14% reflecting higher revenue and profit from the distribution of network programming on Peacock, the contractual escalation of rights fees for our flagship shows, Raw and SmackDown, and the return of ticketed audiences to our live events. In 2022, we anticipate Adjusted OIBDA of $360 million to $375 million, reflecting the full year performance of our ticketed live events as well as the increased production and monetization of content.”
Revenue increased 30% to $310.3 million, primarily due to the impact of a large-scale international event as well as higher ticket and venue merchandise sales resulting from the return to ticketed live events, which began in July 2021.
Operating Income increased 131%, or $47.4 million, to $83.6 million, driven by the impact of the Company’s large-scale international event, and, to a lesser extent, the return to other ticketed live events, which was partially offset by an increase in management incentive compensation costs associated with the Company’s improved operating performance. The Company’s Operating income margin increased to 27% from 15%.
Adjusted OIBDA (which excludes stock compensation) increased 90%, or $46.0 million, to $97.2 million. The Company’s Adjusted OIBDA margin increased to 31% from 21%.
Net Income was $63.9 million, or $0.76 per diluted share, an increase from $13.6 million, or $0.16 per diluted share, primarily reflecting higher operating performance. The results for the fourth quarter of 2021 also reflected an after-tax gain of $5.2 million from the reduction of leased space as part of an amendment to the Company’s new Stamford headquarters lease. The results for the fourth quarter of 2020 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 was $58.7 million, or $0.70 per diluted share, as compared to $20.4 million, or $0.24 per diluted share.
Cash flows generated by operating activities were $42.3 million, a decrease from $62.4 million, as higher net income was more than offset by a decrease in non-cash adjustments, as well as the timing of collections associated with large-scale international events.
Free Cash Flow was $27.5 million, a decrease from $56.2 million, primarily due to the change in operating cash flow and, to a lesser extent, an increase in capital.
The Company returned $59.0 million to shareholders in the fourth quarter of 2021, including $50.0 million in share repurchases and $9.0 million in dividends paid. Under the Company’s existing stock repurchase program, approximately 1.0 million shares were repurchased at an average price of $50.73 per share.
The full press release can be read at corporate.wwe.com.