SeaWorld attendance belly flops, posts 2Q loss

Weather, higher ticket prices drive away SeaWorld visitors; company posts 2Q loss, weak view

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- SeaWorld's first financial report since its April IPO is something of a belly flop.

The water theme park company famous for its shows featuring killer whales and dolphins said Tuesday that higher ticket prices and bad weather hurt attendance in the April-June quarter.

SeaWorld's shares tumbled 13.5 percent to $31.40 in after-hours trading. The company went public in April at $27 per share.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. said it posted a loss of $15.9 million, or 18 cents per share, in the second quarter. Compare that with a profit of $39.1 million, or 47 cents per share, in the same period last year, when SeaWorld was still a privately held company.

Stripping out items including the cost of paying down debt early and a $46.3 million fee to Blackstone, the private equity firm that took SeaWorld public, the company said it earned a profit of 41 cents per share. Still, analysts expected earnings of 47 cents per share on that basis, according to a FactSet poll.

Revenue dropped 3 percent to $411.3 million, below Wall Street's prediction of $435.5 million. Attendance fell 9 percent to 6.6 million visitors. Aside from higher prices and bad weather, SeaWorld said the timing of Easter this year also shifted some visitors to the first quarter instead of the second quarter.

But the company said the higher ticket prices helped drive up a revenue-per-visitor metric it tracks by 7 percent to $62.67.

SeaWorld runs 11 parks, including Busch Gardens and Sesame Place.

For the year, SeaWorld expects revenue of $1.45 billion to $1.48 billion, below analysts' estimate of $1.5 billion

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