WWE announces better-than-expected financial results for the first quarter of 2012 – sending WWE stock soaring 10% on Thursday morning, up from its 52-week low. Here’s the press release containing the financial data. For more details, visit Marketwatch.com.

WWE(R) Reports 2012 First Quarter Results

STAMFORD, Conn., May 03, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — WWEtoday announced financial results for its first quarter ended March 31, 2012. Revenues totaled $123.1 million as compared to $119.9 million in the prior year quarter. Operating income was $16.0 million as compared to $13.2 million in the prior year quarter. Net income was $15.3 million, or $0.20 per share, as compared to $8.6 million, or $0.11 per share, in the prior year quarter. There were several items that impacted comparability on a year-over-year basis, including expenses incurred in conjunction with our potential network, recognition of previously unrecognized tax benefits and film impairments. Excluding the impact of these items, Adjusted Operating income in the current quarter was $18.9 million and Adjusted Net income was $13.1 million, or $0.18 per share. In the prior year quarter, Adjusted Operating income was $16.0 million and Adjusted Net income was $10.3 million, or $0.14 per share.

“In the first quarter, EBITDA grew 19%, reflecting increased profits across all our businesses. Our results were highlighted by the strong performance of our live events as we entered a new market in the Middle East. We are very pleased that our positive first quarter execution continued in April with the successful staging of WrestleMania, which is expected to deliver nearly 1.3 million pay-per-view buys globally,” stated Vince McMahon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Through the first quarter, we made important progress on our key strategic initiatives, developing our foundation for creating and distributing new content, and building on our tremendous brand strength, especially in social media. Looking ahead, we are confident that we will leverage the broad appeal of our content to transform our business and drive long-term earnings growth.”

Comparability of Results

Our current year quarter results included a $0.8 million film impairment charge, related to our film, Bending the Rules, $2.1 million in network related operating expenses and a $4.1 million benefit due to previously unrecognized tax benefits. Prior year quarter results included impairment charges of $2.8 million, related to our film 12 Rounds, and a $0.1 million tax benefit. In order to facilitate an analysis of our financial results on a more comparable basis, where noted, we have adjusted our results to exclude these items from our first quarter of 2012 results. (See Schedules of Adjustments in Supplemental Information).

First Quarter Results by Region and Business Segment

Revenues from North America increased 4%, led by the performance of our Live and Televised Entertainment segment. Revenues from outside North America were essentially unchanged from the prior year quarter. There was no significant impact from changes in foreign exchange rates in the current year quarter.

Live and Televised Entertainment

Revenues from our Live and Televised Entertainment businesses increased 8% to $75.7 million as compared to $70.4 million in the prior year quarter. The increase was primarily due to the performance of our live events and additional television rights fees, as described below.

– Live Event revenues increased 13% to $22.2 million from $19.6 million in the prior year quarter primarily due to the timing of our Fan Axxess events and the successful performance of our inaugural tour in Abu Dhabi. Fan Axxess was held in conjunction with WrestleMania XXVIII but occurred within our first quarter. — There were 75 total events during the current quarter as compared to 77 events in the prior year quarter, with the variance primarily due to touring logistics. There were six international events performed in the current quarter as compared to four in the prior year quarter.

– North American events generated $18.9 million of revenues from 69 events as compared to $17.4 million from 73 events in the prior year quarter, reflecting the timing of Fan Axxess, which added $1.4 million in incremental revenue to the quarter with $1.6 million in the current year quarter. A 6% increase in average ticket prices to $38.50 for our North American events was offset by the impact of four fewer events in the quarter and a 3% decline in average attendance to 6,200.

– International events generated approximately $3.3 million of revenues from six events as compared to $2.2 million from four events in the prior year quarter. The growth was led by the impact of our strong tour in Abu Dhabi, which attracted a total of more than 15,000 fans at three events with an average price of $147 per ticket. Accordingly, average ticket prices at our international events increased 157% to $125.60 as compared to $48.88 in...