Longtime Analyst Looks At Potential WWE Buyers

Is WWE for sale? Some Wall Street investors appear to be convinced that is the case.

Despite mounting allegations and ongoing investigations involving former CEO and chairman Vince McMahon and his resignation from the company, WWE's stock price actually rose during trading on Monday, reaching highs it hasn't seen since 2019. McMahon was once viewed as a lynchpin to WWE's long-term success, but that view seems to have dramatically changed, as his departure is being brushed aside by investors speculating on the company's possible sale.

The increase in the stock price Monday was buoyed by the company's preliminary update of its financials for the second quarter, which includes the expectation of a more than 23% revenue increase from the same period last year. However, investors are also buying into WWE with the expectation that the company could soon be sold. MKM Partners analyst Eric Handler wrote there would be "no shortage of suitors" for WWE.

In a Deadline article on Monday, analyst Alan Gould of Loop Capital is quoted discussing the potential players in a possible WWE sale. His rundown of possible suitors includes Comcast, Disney, Amazon, Netflix, and Fox.

As the parent company of WWE's broadcast partner NBC Universal, Comcast would appear to be an obvious buyer. However, Gould says Comcast may be hesitant to take on the financial commitment following its $39 billion acquisition of Sky. Disney already airs UFC programming on some of its broadcast platforms, so WWE could appear to be a logical companion to broaden the combat sports offerings from ESPN and other outlets. But Gould says Disney is also stretched financially by recent agreements to acquire 20th Century Fox and Hulu.

"This is a challenging environment with the equities of most of the logical buyers depressed, but there is demand for live event programming, and it is the first time that one could realistically think that WWE could be for sale," Gould reportedly told clients.

Amazon and Netflix are less traditional, but still intriguing, options. Gould pointed out that Amazon has been buying more sports programming, and WWE could fit into that strategy. Netflix has avoided sports programming, but WWE's self-described "sports entertainment" branding could make it an option. WWE content could also be viewed as a lower-cost alternative to more expensive sports broadcasting packages. During an appearance on CNBC on Monday, Josh Brown of Ritholtz Wealth Managemen called WWE a "no-brainer acquisition" for either Amazon or Netflix.

All of this hinges on WWE's actual interest in a sale. New co-CEO Nick Khan stated in January that the company is not looking to sell. However, in the same interview, Khan confirmed that WWE has taken some inbound calls fromĀ other companies looking to buy it.

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