As crowds flock to Orlando for WrestleMania 33, professional wrestling's biggest event of the year, Jim Cramer took a dive into WWE's stock to pin down how the name has soared in recent years.
"When you take a sober look at the fundamentals, it become clear that WWE is actually on the right side of many powerful secular themes, like the ascendance of live programming, the rise of online media, and the embrace of video games as part of the stay-at-home economy," the "Mad Money" host said.
In truth, World Wrestling Entertainment has been around for decades, and the company has been public since 1999.
Since then, the stock has been volatile, like in 2014 when it spiked to $30 on news of a deal with NBCUniversal before plunging down to just over $10 when the terms of the deal turned out to be worse than anticipated.
But WWE turned itself around by releasing WWE Network, a subscription-based streaming service that boosted its stock to more than twice its 2014 bottom and modernized the once-old-school media business.
No longer did WWE have to rely solely on selling tickets, upping ratings, and pleasing broadcast partners to make money.
"With pay-per-view, WWE would only actually get to keep 40 to 50 percent of the revenue generated by a given event, with the rest going to the broadcaster. With WWE Network, though, they cut out the middleman and keep all the money," Cramer said.
"By the time the calendar flipped to 2015, WWE had become much more of a new media play," he added.
And as the ratings keep rolling in and professional wrestling gains traction globally in countries like the U.K. and India, WWE gains more bargaining power with networks like NBCUniversal and USA that broadcast its events.
With loyal wrestling fans making up what Cramer called a "sticky revenue stream" for the company now that it has replaced its expensive pay-per-view model with streaming, WWE has grown to become the United States' fifth-largest "over-the-top," or web-based, network.
"In short, WWE Network was a very expensive enterprise to set up, but we're now approaching the point where it really starts to pay off," Cramer said.
The $50 million a year WWE rakes in from licensing its brand to gaming giant Take-Two Interactive for the WWE 2K video game and to Mattel for action figures doesn't hurt, either.
Cramer added that WWE could be a "classic Trump stock" since President Donald Trump chose its former CEO, Linda McMahon, to run the Small Business Administration, and because tax reform could give the wrestling giant's bottom line a helpful bump.
So should you buy and ride this expensive heavyweight champion to glory, or will it be a piledriver to your profits?
"WWE is firing on all cylinders here [and] the rollout of its online network has been a huge success, but take it from the Booyah Brooklyn Bomber: the stock has run so much that I'd recommend buying it into a pullback, although it's possible you won't get one, so maybe you take some down now and buy more lower and later," Cramer said.
Disclosure: Eyes On Events parent NBCUniversal owns NBC Sports, which owns TV distribution rights to WWE programming.
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