Wolfe Research downgrades WWE, says resistance to Vince Mahon’s return could mean trouble ahead

Investors hoping the recent leadership shakeup at WWE would be a knock-out may instead find themselves getting body slammed, Wolfe Research warned. Analyst Peter Supino downgraded the stock to peer perform from outperform. Supino also removed his price target of $111 per share. That target was 30% above Monday’s closing price of $84.95. Stephanie McMahon resigned earlier this month from her role as co-CEO and chairwoman following the unanimous election of her father, Vince, as company’s executive chairman. She came to the role from a leave of absence after her father retired following sexual abuse allegations. “Stephanie McMahon’s resignation and the Board’s formal resistance to Vince’s return indicate serious stress,” Supino said in a Monday note to clients. Before coming into the co-CEO role, Stephanie left her position as chief brand officer to focus on family. Supino said the resignation bolsters his perception of instability at the company, especially when paired with the return of prior board members who resigned in 2020. He said Stephanie sounded fully committed to the role before her father’s return, so her resignation could signal a rebuke of Vince or that she wanted to free her equity stake from employment binds. If the latter is the case, Supino said it’s hard to gauge whether that should make an investors optimistic or pessimistic on the stock’s future performance. He said it also raises the question of why Vince needed to return at all, wondering if it would give “a shot in the arm” to the 2025 TV rights renewal process. His return also comes amid talk of a potential sale . There’s also risk associated with Vince’s return, he said, pointing to the potential for a ratings collapse due to fans disapproving of him. Supino said Vince’s return could also aid competitors AEW and UFC as the companies try to poach talent. WWE did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. — CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.

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