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May 16, 2014

Investment Firm Calls For WWE To Fire Management Or Explore Sale Of Business


For the record, Vince McMahon owns 57% of WWE's Class A stock, and 87% of WWE's Class B stock, meaning he has roughly 82% of the voting power. So any outside group buying WWE stock and trying to influence change may be able to pressure WWE a bit, but Vince McMahon is pretty much untouchable right now given the number of shares he owns.

Lemelson Capital Management, a private investment management firm, announced on Friday they have a stake in shares of WWE and are calling on the Board of Directors to replace the executive management team or explore the sale of the business.

The firm called on the changes following “a period of consistent losses, execution issues and material misstatements.”

“WWE has affirmed that even with one million subscribers for its WWE network, the company stands to lose between $45 million and $52 million in FY 2014, which validates the original short thesis,” said Emmanuel Lemelson, Chief Investment Officer of Lemelson Capital Management. “This follows what we believe to be material misrepresentations by the company about both the performance and operating profit model of its WWE network, which the company has wrongly labeled ‘a homerun’,” said Lemelson.

Below is the release in its entirety:

Lemelson Capital Announces Stake In World Wrestling Entertainment And Calls On Board To Pursue New Management Or Ownership

Marlborough, MA, May 16, 2014 — Lemelson Capital, LLC, a private investment management firm, today announced that they had taken a stake in shares of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and called on the Board of Directors to replace the executive management team of the company following a period of consistent losses, execution issues and material misstatements.

Despite the stock’s roughly 63% correction since Lemelson Capital’s original short call less than two months ago (from $30.37 on March 17 to $11.33 as of publication of this release), the firm today also reiterated that fair value of WWE’s common stock is between $8.25 and $11.88.

Lemelson Capital’s original short thesis can be found here:

“WWE has affirmed that even with one million subscribers for its WWE network, the company stands to lose between $45 million and $52 million in FY 2014, which validates the original short thesis,” said Emmanuel Lemelson, Chief Investment Officer of Lemelson Capital Management. “This follows what we believe to be material misrepresentations by the company about both the performance and operating profit model of its WWE network, which the company has wrongly labeled ‘a homerun’,” said Lemelson.

Lemelson Capital today also called on WWE’s Board of Directors to promptly replace the company’s executive management team, or explore the sale of the business, and said that such changes are a necessary component of any successful strategy going forward. “For example, promoting the WWE direct network’s value to shareholders without a fair and accurate discussion of the implications to a traditional network revenue circumvented management’s fiduciary responsibility as stewards of investor’s capital, and is part of what has emerged as a pattern over recent years. Further, there are no pending operational developments in the pipeline to offset these significant losses,” Lemelson added.

Lemelson Capital and its clients are long shares of WWE.

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