News Column

Stock in Busch Gardens' parent company takes tumble

August 13, 2014

By Dave Mayfield, The Virginian-Pilot

Aug. 13--Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., the parent company of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA, had plummeted by more than 30 percent at noon today after the company reported earnings well below analysts' expectations.

The Orlando, Fla.-based company said its profit for the second quarter ended June 30 was $37.3 million, or 43 cents per share. That improved on a loss of $15.9 million in the same period last year. But the consensus expectation of analysts had been for much more -- a profit equivalent to 59 cents per share in the latest quarter.

SeaWorld's revenues dropped about 1 percent from the year before -- to $405 million in the latest quarter. And the company said it expects further revenue drops, predicting a decline for the full year of between 6 and 7 percent as park attendance slides.

The company said it will be hurt by a delay in opening a new attraction. It didn't specify the attraction, but The Orlando Sentinel has reported that a new Falcon's Fury ride at Busch Gardens Tampa was supposed to debut this summer but still has no opening date.

SeaWorld also blamed "recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California" for attendance declines. The company is fighting a proposed ban in that state on keeping killer whales in captivity. That would affect its SeaWorld San Diego park.

In an effort to boost its stock, SeaWorld announced a $250 million share repurchase program, to begin Jan. 1.


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Source: Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, VA)

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