GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) -- Six Flags Entertainment Corp. said Wednesday it posted fourth-quarter net income of $143.8 million, reversing a loss in the same quarter a year ago, boosted by a hefty tax benefit.
The theme park operator's profit amounted to $2.59 per share and compared with a loss of $102 million, or $1.85 per share, in the same quarter the year before.
Revenue rose 5 percent to $143.9 million from $137.6 million, helped by a 3 percent increase in attendance and a 2 percent increase in total revenue per guest. Average guest spending increased 3 percent.
The results were significantly better than expected. Analysts, on average, expected a loss of 49 cents per share on $133.5 million in revenue, according to FactSet.
Admissions revenue rose 7 percent to $73 million from $68.5 million, while sales of theme park, food, merchandise and other items increased 5 percent to $58.2 million.
For the full year 2012, Six Flags earned $354 million, or $6.38 per share, compared with a loss of $22.7 million, or 41 cents per share, in 2011. Revenue rose to $1.07 billion from $1.01 billion.
The company added that due to strong pass sales for the 2013 season, its deferred revenue grew to $53 million as of Dec. 31, representing a 38 percent increase from the same day in 2011.
Shares of Six Flags rose $3.27, or 5.1 percent, to $67 in morning trading. Earlier in trading shares hit $67.34, their highest level since the company emerged from bankruptcy protection in May 2010.