WWE stock rallied on Monday after news broke that WWE is revising their financial statements to account for $14.6 million in payments that should have been recorded as expenses. This could include the alleged $12.5 million in hush money payments to former female employees alleging harassment, misconduct, and abuse that was recently reported by the Wall Street Journal.
WWE stock rose as high as 10.57% against a seemingly flat stock market, before settling into a 7.90% rise around the time of publication. Comparatively, the S&P is up by barely .2%, while the Dow isn’t doing much better at +.3% and the Nasdaq is down by .27%, suggesting that Wall Street is responding to the not only the news from Friday that Vince McMahon is retiring and Nick Khan & Stephanie McMahon are now co-CEOs, but also today’s news that Paul Levesque (fka Triple H) has assumed control of WWE’s creative direction going forward. The WWE stock is currently trading at around $71 dollars, a figure the stock hasn’t seen since the back half of 2019.
While Triple H taking the helm of WWE’s creative direction could be a big boon for programming, it appears that his promotion, as well as Wall Street’s reaction, are more confirmation of the corporate reality that Vince McMahon is not likely to return to WWE, leaving the company’s future uncertain. While McMahon’s daughter Stephanie has technically kept a family hand on the business, Nick Khan moving up to co-CEO is a huge shake-up. Khan confirmed earlier this year that he has taken calls about a potential sale, but that the company is not actively looking to be sold. “We want to be in business with everybody who is a real player in this business,” Khan said to the Sports Business Journal.
McMahon’s attorney, Jerry McDevitt, initially said that “WWE did not pay any monies” to the employee who was the subject of the first WSJ report, leading to speculation that McMahon used personal funds in an effort to silence allegations against himself and then-EVP of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis. According to Wrestlenomics’ Brandon Thurston, WWE media relations have stated that even if McMahon used personal funds to make the payments, the payments still benefitted WWE, and the financial reports would need to be revised as such. WWE’s current goal is to have financial records up to date by August 9th, when they are set to report their second quarter earnings, and will report the revised 2019, 2020, 2021, and 2022 financials.
According to today’s 8-K filing by WWE, the board of director’s investigation into McMahon is still ongoing, and that there still may be “regulatory, investigative and enforcement inquiries, subpoenas, or demands” incoming. The target date has led to a run of options traders placing bets on the WWE stock. Currently a number of options traders have set their sights on August 19th as the date by which WWE’s stock will rise or fall, with numerous puts and calls being placed for that date — a “put” is a bet that a stock will drop in price, while a “call” is a bet that a stock’s price will rise.
The stock rally means that, in the wake of his own retirement, the market value of McMahon’s current WWE stock has risen by approximately $150 million.
$WWE shares are holding steady at about $71 since noon, meaning Vince McMahon's 28.7 million shares have gained about $150.5 million in market value since the close of business on Friday, when the stock was at $66.22 just before his exit was announced.https://t.co/fQZu7l0eyb
— Brandon Thurston (@BrandonThurston) July 25, 2022
Have a news tip or correction? Send it to [email protected]