A growing number of fans might find professional wrestling oddly entertaining, but analysts do not right now. World Wrestling Entertainment (NYSE: WWE) is getting body slammed.
Shares of the company, which went public in 1999, have been pile-driven to its current $11.76 per share level from its 52-week high of $18.95. Its revenues were down in the third quarter to $109.6 million from $111.3 million in the third quarter of 2009.
One analyst, Michael Pachter at Wedbush Morgan, just lowered his rating of the company to neutral from outperform and has predicted that its 1.44 percent dividend yield may be unsustainable due to its weak business momentum.
Pachter cited its lowering attendance at live events, such as its “Royal Rumble” and “Money in the Bank” cards, as well as a declining customer base for its monthly pay-per-views.
Pachter also cited changes to the company’s talent base, a weak economy and increased competition from private professional wrestling companies such as Total Nonstop Action (TNA) as reasons for the downgrade.
He also noted the fact that its chairman, Vincent K. McMahon, who often shows up in the ring as his maniacal CEO persona (in one event, McMahon showed up to the ring with a microphone and told the live audience, You can't boo me, damnit, I'm Vince McMahon!), did not participate in its November conference call with investors for undisclosed reasons.
The company did issue a written statement, noting that many of its more popular wrestlers recently retired or were out with injuries, including “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Triple H and Batista.
It also stated that it is in a transitional period as it is trying to develop the popularity of its newer stars such as Wade Barrett.
Critics say that the company needs a change in its creative direction, saying that some of its story lines, such as the ongoing feud between one of its more popular stars, John Cena, and the villainous group, “The Nexus,” are too drawn out and are no longer compelling.