WWE shares surge after Hollywood Reporter says ''Smackdown' Up for Grabs'
Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) are higher after a Hollywood Reporter story that said that "WWE's Smackdown is being shopped to various networks after [Comcast's (CMCSA, CMCSK)] NBCUniversal -- whose USA Network airs the highly rated pro wrestling matches -- declined to re-up its deal." SMACKDOWN OPEN TO BIDDING: According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Smackdown franchise is available to bidding as NBCU will be concentrating on renewing its agreement for Raw, another WWE wrestling franchise. According to the story, Raw "is expected to close at as much as three times its current value." ANALYST VIEW: Guggenheim analyst Curry Baker said he is keeping his Buy rating and $48 price target on WWE, noting he is "bullish" on the company's TV renewal prospects based on the terms about to be achieved by UFC. Baker says UFC is "on the verge" of renewing its TV right at over $350M in average annual value, which he calls a "baseline minimum" for WWE considering that its RAW and SmackDown programs provide more hours of content -- 260 vs. UFC's 105 -- and at much higher TV ratings than UFC. PRICE ACTION: Shares of World Wrestling Entertainment are up 15% to $50.21 per share in early afternoon trading.