Morgan Stanley raises its price target on WWE


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World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon (L) and wrestler Triple H appear in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009

World Wrestling Entertainment shares triple-digit return so far this year has much more to go, according to Morgan Stanley.

The firm raised its price target for the media company to $100 from $58, representing 34 percent upside to Thursday’s close. It is the highest target out of the 12 analysts who cover WWE, according to FactSet. Morgan Stanley also reiterated its overweight rating for the company.

Last month WWE announced it signed deals with NBCUniversal and Fox Sports for its programs “Monday Night Raw” and “SmackDown Live” respectively, starting from October 2019.

“WWE may be the strongest example of the rapid appreciation in content ‘value’ in the public markets,” analyst Benjamin Swinburne said in a note to clients Friday. “By securing a 3.6x multiple in its new five-year agreements with NBC/FOX relative to its prior five-year broadcast agreement with NBC, WWE gains a massive increase in earnings power, with visibility into the revenue associated with these new rights extremely high.”

WWE shares closed up 3.1 percent Friday. The company’s stock is up 144 percent so far this year through Thursday versus the S&P 500’s 5 percent return.

The analyst estimates WWE’s operating income before depreciation and amortization will rise to $500 million by 2021 from just $130 million last year due to the new agreements.

“Competition for eyeballs across TV and online has led to a rapid increase in content spending, particularly for sports rights and exclusive IP, and should manifest itself in accelerating revenue growth over the next 2-3 years,” he said.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent of CNBC.

— CNBC’s
Michael Bloom
contributed to this story.

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