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Weak Q2 from World Poker Tour - decreased license fees blamed

World Poker Tour Enterprises has released its numbers for the second quarter 2008, ended June 29, with plenty of developments but weak results and a reducing headcount throughout the company.

Business highlights for the quarter included the delivery of eight episodes of Season VI of the World Poker Tour (WPT) television series; the continued progress in the development of CLUBWPT.com and the WPT China National Traktor Poker Tour and the implementation of cost cutting measures.

However, revenues decreased to $5.1 million, compared to $7.7 million in the same period in 2007, primarily a result of a decrease in domestic television license fees, due to lower per episode license fees under the GSN agreement in effect during the 2008 period, as compared to the Travel Channel agreement which was in effect during the 2007 period.

Domestic television license revenues were $2.4 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $4.3 million in the second quarter of 2007.

International television licensing revenues decreased to $0.4 million in the second quarter of 2008 compared to $0.8 million in the second quarter of 2007 with the decrease due to lower fees associated with international distribution agreements.

Product licensing revenues decreased to $0.6 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $1.0 million in the second quarter of 2007. The decrease was primarily due to higher license revenues in the second quarter of 2007 relating to final royalty payments from Take-Two Interactive and Jakks Pacific, and lower revenues from Hands-On Mobile in the current quarter as compared to the 2007 period.

Event hosting and sponsorship revenues decreased to $1.3 million from $1.4 million in the second quarter of 2007 primarily due to no sponsorship revenues from Budweiser in the second quarter of 2008, partially offset by increased international sponsorship revenues in the 2008 period.

Online gaming revenues bucked the downward trend, rising modestly in the second quarter of 2008 compared to the second quarter of 2007. However, for the six months ended June 29, 2008, online gaming revenues declined compared to the first six months of 2007.

There were lower levels of player activity on the company’s website on the Cryptologic network in the 2008 period versus the site operated by WagerWorks in the 2007 period; however, 2007 revenues were reduced as the company transitioned its operations from the WagerWorks network to the Cryptologic network in June 2007.

Overall gross margins were 45% in the second quarter of 2008 compared to 60% in the second quarter of 2007. Domestic television licensing margins were 9% in the second quarter of 2008 compared to 40% in the same period in 2007. This decrease was principally because of the lower fees per episode under the GSN contract. The lower domestic television margins in the 2008 period were partially offset by increased margin contribution from international sponsorship fees.

Selling, general and administrative expenses increased to $6.4 million in the second quarter of 2008, compared to $6.0 million in the second quarter of 2007. Higher costs associated with the implementation of sales and marketing plans for the company's online gaming, WPT China and ClubWPT.com businesses were partially offset by a reduction in general and administrative expenses resulting from reduced headcounts throughout the company.

Overall, WPT reported a net loss for the quarter of $3.9 million, compared to a net loss of $3.3 million in the 2007 period.

Despite the dismal results, WPT remains in a strong position as at June 29, 2008, with no debt, and total cash, cash equivalents and investments in marketable securities of approximately $24.3 million, including $11.4 million of auction rate securities (ARS) backed by student loans, the majority of which are guaranteed under the Federal Family Education Loan Program, but this is under pressure from the poor economic climate currently being experienced in the USA.

Commenting on the results, Steve Lipscomb, President and CEO of WPT Enterprises said: “We continue to be disappointed in our online gaming results and have begun directing resources in our growing sponsorship business. On the other hand, we continue to be encouraged by the strength of our brand in the domestic and international marketplace.

“We announced two important collaborations with the Fox Sports Network subsequent to the end of the quarter. The first is a broadcast deal to air 26 all-new one hour episodes of Season VII of the World Poker Tour television series across the U.S. as a part of FSN’s Sunday sports block.

"The second deal is an agreement that will provide television and other media exposure that we expect to allow us to grow our subscriber based online poker business, ClubWPT.com. Fox will broadcast at least 13 one hour episodes of a new television series called “ClubWPT.com” on FSN. WPT will have the option to produce up to 40 additional episodes as the subscription business grows.

"The only way that players can get onto the ClubWPT.com television show is to win a seat on ClubWPT.com. FSN will promote ClubWPT.com through in-show title sponsorship, in-show billboards, audio mentions, commercial inventory and website presence on the main page of FoxSports.com."

Source: InfoPowa News

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