Thursday, April 18, 2024

USA Theme Park Owners’ Financial Results for First Quarter 2018


[tab title=”Introduction”]

InPark presents the 1st quarter financial results for the five largest publicly traded theme park operators based in the US. Each of the five is also included in the AECOM/TEA 2016 Theme Index’s list of the top 10 theme park groups worldwide. Click on the tabs for detailed financial information and a direct link to each company’s 10Q filing with the SEC. Results are for global theme park operations for each company and are for the period Jan 1 – March 31, 2018.

The Walt Disney Company (Disney Parks and Resorts)

NOTE: Disney’s fiscal year begins October 1. Results are for the company’s 2nd quarter, which runs Jan 1 – March 31.

Park attendance up 4%, Hotel occupancy up 88% from 2nd quarter 2017

Total revenue 13% to $4.9 billion

Comcast (Universal Parks & Resorts)

Total revenue up 14.5% to $1.28 billion from 1st quarter 2017

Six Flags

Attendance up 27% to 2.4 million guests from 1st quarter 2017

Total revenue up 30% to $129 million

Cedar Fair

Total revenue up 14.5% to $55 million from 1st quarter 2017

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

Attendance up 14.9% to 3.2 million guests from 1st quarter 2017

Total revenue up 16.5% to $217.2 million

[tab title=”Disney”]

On May 8, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) reported quarterly earnings for its second fiscal quarter ended March 31, 2018. Diluted earnings per share (EPS) for the quarter increased 30% to $1.95 from $1.50 in the prior-year quarter. Excluding certain items affecting comparability, EPS for the quarter increased 23% to $1.84 from $1.50 in the prior-year quarter. EPS for the six months ended March 31, 2018 increased to $4.86 from $3.05 in the prior-year period. Excluding certain items affecting comparability, EPS for the six months increased 22% to $3.73 from $3.05 in the prior-year period.

“Driven by strong results in our parks and resorts and studio businesses, our Q2 performance reflects our continued ability to drive significant shareholder value,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Walt Disney Company. “Our ability to create extraordinary content like Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War and leverage it across all business units, the unique value proposition we’re creating for consumers with our DTC platforms, and our recent reorganization strengthen our confidence that we are very well positioned for future growth.”

Parks and Resorts revenues for the quarter increased 13% to $4.9 billion and segment operating income increased 27% to $1.0 billion. Operating income growth for the quarter was due to increases at our domestic and international parks and resorts. Results included a benefit from a shift in the timing of the Easter holiday relative to our fiscal periods. The current quarter included one week of the Easter holiday, whereas the entire Easter holiday fell in the third quarter of the prior year.

Higher operating income at our domestic parks and resorts was primarily due to increased guest spending, attendance growth at Walt Disney World Resort and higher sponsorship revenue, partially offset by increased costs. Guest spending growth was due to increases in average ticket prices, average daily hotel room rates and food, beverage and merchandise spending. The increase in costs was primarily due to labor and other cost inflation, an increase in depreciation associated with new attractions and higher technology spending.

The increase at our international parks and resorts was due to growth at Disneyland Paris and higher occupied room nights and attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. These increases were partially offset by a decrease at Shanghai Disney Resort driven by lower attendance, cost inflation and an unfavorable foreign currency impact. Higher operating income at Disneyland Paris was due to increases in guest spending and attendance, partially offset by cost inflation. Guest spending growth at Disneyland Paris was due to higher average ticket prices driven by less discounting, and increases in average daily hotel room rates and food, beverage and merchandise spending.

Click here for Disney’s 10Q filing with the SEC

[tab title=”Comcast”]

Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ: CMCSA) on April 25 reported results for the quarter ended March 31, 2018.

Brian L. Roberts, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Comcast Corporation, said, “Comcast NBCUniversal is off to a great start in 2018 with over 10% revenue growth in the first quarter. At Cable Communications, our steady increase in customer relationships continued, balanced with solid growth in EBITDA, reflecting momentum in our high-speed Internet and business services segments. NBCUniversal delivered double-digit EBITDA growth, fueled by impressive results at our Theme Parks, as well as our TV businesses’ successful broadcasts of the NFL’s Super Bowl LII and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The Olympics were an incredible event that showcased our capabilities and collaboration throughout the company. NBCUniversal’s amazing presentation was the most comprehensive in Winter Games history with over 2,400 hours of coverage across broadcast, cable networks, and digital, and Cable’s best-in-class technology delivered an unparalleled viewing experience, resulting in 26% higher ratings among our X1 customers than the national average. I’m proud of our teams across Comcast NBCUniversal and believe we are well-positioned for the future.”

Consolidated Revenue for the first quarter of 2018 increased 10.7% to $22.8 billion. ConsolidatedNet Income Attributable to Comcast increased 21.2% to $3.1 billion. ConsolidatedAdjusted EBITDA increased 3.3% to $7.2 billion.

Earnings per Share (EPS) for the first quarter of 2018 was $0.66, an increase of 24.5% compared to the first quarter of 2017. On an adjusted basis, EPS increased 17.0% to $0.62.

Capital Expenditures decreased 5.0% to $2.0 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Cable Communications’ capital expenditures decreased 5.2% to $1.7 billion in the first quarter of 2018, reflecting a lower level of spending on customer premise equipment, partially offset by increased investment in scalable infrastructure to increase network capacity and increased investment in line extensions. Cable capital expenditures represented 12.5% of Cable revenue in the first quarter of 2018 compared to 13.6% in last year’s first quarter. NBCUniversal’s capital expenditures of $269 million decreased 5.6%.

Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities was $5.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018. Free Cash Flow was $3.1 billion.

Dividends and Share Repurchases. During the first quarter of 2018, Comcast paid dividends totaling $738 million and repurchased 38.6 million of its common shares for $1.5 billion. As of March 31, 2018, Comcast had $5.5 billion available under its share repurchase authorization. Comcast expects to repurchase at least $5.0 billion of its Class A common stock during 2018, subject to market conditions.

Revenue for NBCUniversal increased 21.3% to $9.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018, primarily driven by the broadcasts of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and the NFL’s Super Bowl which generated an incremental $1.6 billion of revenue at our TV businesses. Adjusted EBITDA increased 13.1% to $2.3 billion, reflecting increases at Broadcast, Cable Networks and Theme Parks, partially offset by a decline at Filmed Entertainment.

Theme Parks revenue increased 14.5% to $1.3 billion in the first quarter of 2018 due to higher per capita spending, which benefited from the timing of spring holidays, as well as the continued success of Volcano BayTM in Orlando, Minion ParkTM in Japan and The Wizarding World of Harry PotterTM in Hollywood. Adjusted EBITDA increased 24.6% to $495 million in the first quarter of 2018, reflecting higher revenue, partially offset by an increase in operating expenses.

Click here for Comcast’s 10Q filing with the SEC

[/tab][tab title=”Six Flags”]

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company, on April 24 announced that revenue for the first quarter of 2018 increased by $29 million or 30 percent from the first quarter of 2017 to a record-high $129 million. The revenue growth resulted primarily from a 27 percent increase in the number of guests visiting Six Flags parks, and the success of both the company’s pricing strategy and international licensing program. Attendance at Six Flags properties grew by 0.5 million to 2.4 million guests. This increase was driven by additional operating days from Six Flags Magic Mountain moving to a 365-day calendar; Hurricane Harbor Mexico being open in the first quarter, while not open in the first quarter of 2017; adjustments to park operating schedules due to the earlier timing of the Easter holiday; and additional attendance due to the company’s higher Active Pass Base, which represents the total number of guests who have purchased a season pass or who are enrolled in the company’s membership program.

“We are firing on all cylinders as we made excellent progress in the quarter against each of our five growth initiatives,” said Jim Reid-Anderson, Chairman, President and CEO. “With our record-high Active Pass Base, ongoing price increases across all ticket and culinary programs, growing dining pass penetration, new water park openings and new international licensing agreements, we are poised to deliver another record year of financial performance in 2018. We remain laser-focused on exceeding $600 million of Modified EBITDA1 in 2018 and continue to work toward our long-term aspirational goal of $750 million of Modified EBITDA by 2020.”

Since most of the parks were not scheduled to be open during the first quarter, the company had a net loss during the quarter of $62 million. The loss per share for the first quarter of 2018 was $0.74 compared to a loss per share of $0.63 in the first quarter of 2017, primarily due to a reduced tax benefit in the quarter because of federal tax reform. Adjusted EBITDAfor the first quarter was a loss of $19 million, an improvement of $16 million over the prior year period primarily due to the 27 percent increase in attendance and higher guest spending per capita. Modified EBITDA for the twelve months ended March 31, 2018, was $574 million, an increase of $41 million or 8 percent compared to the twelve months ended March 31, 2017. Modified EBITDA margin for the 12-month period improved to a new industry high of 41.4 percent.

The company’s Active Pass Base increased 10 percent year-over-year to a new all-time high for the first quarter. Increasing season pass and membership penetration is a key tenet of the company’s growth strategy, providing a platform of recurring revenue and the ability to further grow attendance as the company expands its network of parks. Season pass holders, and especially members, are the company’s most loyal and valuable guests, generating more recurring revenue and cash flow for the company than a single day guest. Season passes and memberships also provide an excellent hedge against inclement weather throughout the season.

Deferred revenue of $182 million as of March 31, 2018, increased by $25 million or 16 percent from March 31, 2017, primarily due to a higher level of season pass, membership and all season dining pass sales for the 2018 season.

Total guest spending per capita for the first quarter of 2018 was $46.07, an increase of $1.78 or 4 percent compared to the first quarter of 2017. Admissions revenue per capita increased $0.66 to $28.15 and in-park spending per capita increased $1.12 to $17.93. Favorable foreign currency rate translation accounted for $0.59of the increase in total guest spending per capita, although it had a negligible impact on Modified EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA.

In the first quarter of 2018, the company invested $42 million in new capital projects. The company also paid $66.0 million in dividends, or $0.78 per common share, and repurchased 1.3 million shares of its common stock at an aggregate cost of $81 million, leaving 83.5 million shares of stock outstanding as of March 31, 2018. The authorized share repurchase amount available as of March 31, 2018, was $262 million.

Net Debt3 as of March 31, 2018, calculated as total reported debt of $2.18 billion less cash and cash equivalents of $33 million, was $2.14 billion, representing a net leverage ratio of 4.0 times Adjusted EBITDA.

Previous Announcements

On February 20, 2018, the company announced an ambitious initiative to power two more of its parks almost entirely with solar power, bringing the number of parks in this program to three. Once the projects are constructed, the company expects to save approximately $3 million per year in energy costs.

On March 26, 2018, the company announced that its lenders approved a reduction to the borrowing rate on the company’s Term Loan B Credit Facility, reducing the company’s borrowing rate by 25 basis points. In conjunction with the repricing, the company increased the size of its Term Loan B Credit Facility by $39 million, which funded on April 18, 2018. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, including share repurchases.

On April 4, 2018, the company and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced plans to develop a Six Flags-branded theme park in the city of Riyadh.

On April 24, 2018, the company and its partner in China, Riverside Investment Group, announced a licensing agreement to develop three Six Flags-branded parks in Nanjing, China, which will be the partner’s third park complex. The parks are expected to begin opening in 2021.

Click here for Six Flag’s 10Q filing with the SEC

[/tab][tab title=”Cedar Fair”]

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, on May 2 announced results for the first quarter ended March 25, 2018.  Historically, first-quarter results represent less than 5% of the Company’s full-year net revenues as the majority of its parks and facilities are closed during this quarter.  As a result, the Company typically operates at a loss during this period.

“Our commitment to investing in high quality and immersive experiences at our parks is a differentiator for Cedar Fair and our guests,” said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair’s president and chief executive officer. “We believe everything we do should be unique by scale and unique by offer.  In doing so, we are able to elevate the overall guest experience, encourage repeat visitation, provide greater pricing power and more aggressively market to incremental audiences outside the traditional geographic market range of our parks.”

“The success of this strategy was evident during the first quarter at Knott’s Berry Farm, our only park with meaningful first-quarter operations,” continued Zimmerman.  “During the quarter, the introduction of a new Peanuts Celebration and growth in the Knott’s Annual Boysenberry Festival were large contributors to our strong early-season performance in 2018.  The immersive, multi-week, multi-generational events we have worked hard to create continue to build upon Knott’s unique regional brand and provide even greater value to its ‘Seasons of FUN’ season pass program, which is also off to a very positive start in 2018.”

Commenting on the positive reception of the Company’s new rides and attractions, including Cedar Point’s world-record-breaking hyper-hybrid roller coaster, Steel Vengeance, Zimmerman stated, “Our season passholders experienced their first rides on Steel Vengeance this past week and the response was extraordinary.  We are proud to say Steel Vengeance is truly a ride like no other.”

First-Quarter Results

For the first quarter ended March 25, 2018, Cedar Fair’s net revenues increased to $55 million, compared with $48 million in the first quarter ended March 26, 2017.  The solid increase in revenues for the current-year first quarter was driven by increases in both attendance and average in-park guest per capita spending.

The operating loss for the quarter was $76 million, comparable with the operating loss reported in the first quarter of 2017.  The increased revenues noted above, were partially offset by a $6 million increase in operating costs and expenses, which totaled $124 million for the first quarter of 2018.  The increase in operating costs and expenses was in-line with the Company’s expectations and reflects higher costs to support the increased attendance and guest spending in the quarter; higher labor costs due to market/minimum-wage rate increases; and higher operating expenses attributable to disassembling of attractions and decorations associated with the inaugural WinterFest holiday events at three parks.  Depreciation and amortization and loss on impairment/retirement of fixed assets were comparable with the prior-year first quarter.

Interest expense for the first quarter of 2018 increased slightly to $20 million due to an increase in term debt from the Company’s April 2017 refinancing.  The net effect of the Company’s swaps during the quarter resulted in a $4 million benefit to earnings, reflecting the change in fair market value movements in the Company’s de-designated swap portfolio offset by the amortization of amounts in “Other Comprehensive Income” related to the outstanding swaps.  During the first quarter of 2018, the Company also recognized a $10 million net charge to earnings for foreign currency gains and losses related to the U.S.-dollar denominated Canadian term loan compared with a $3 million net benefit to earnings for the first quarter in 2017.

A net benefit of $19 million was recorded to account for the tax attributes of the Company’s corporate subsidiaries and publicly traded partnership taxes during the first quarter of 2018, compared with a net benefit of $28 million for taxes in the same period a year ago.  This decrease in benefit for taxes relates largely to the decrease in the federal statutory income tax rate implemented by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which was signed into law during the fourth quarter of 2017.  Actual cash taxes paid or payable are estimated to be between $40 million and $50 million for the 2018 calendar year.

The net loss for the first quarter ended March 25, 2018, totaled $83 million, or $1.49 per diluted limited partner (LP) unit.  This compares with a net loss of $65 million, or $1.16 per diluted LP unit, for the first quarter a year ago.  The increase in net loss is primarily a result of increased net revenues more than offset by planned increases in operating costs and expenses, an increase in the loss on foreign currency and a lower benefit for taxes.

Adjusted EBITDA, which management believes is a meaningful measure of the Company’s park-level operating results, for the first quarter of 2018 was comparable with the same period a year ago.  This is the result of increased net revenues for the quarter due to increased attendance and average in-park guest per capita spending offset by increased operating costs and expenses associated with labor, operating supplies and other planned spending.

Cash Flow and Liquidity Remain Strong

As of March 25, 2018, the Company had $735 million of variable-rate term debt (before giving consideration to fixed-rate interest rate swaps), $950 million of fixed-rate debt (excluding amounts related to debt issuance costs), $40 million of borrowings under its revolving credit facilities, and $43 million of cash and cash equivalents on hand.  The Company believes it is in a strong position to produce future cash flows from operations that, combined with its existing credit facilities, will be sufficient to meet working capital needs, debt service, planned capital expenditures and distributions for the foreseeable future.

Distribution Declaration

The Company also announced today the declaration of a cash distribution of $0.89 per LP unit.  The distribution will be paid on June 15, 2018, to unitholders of record as of June 4, 2018.  This distribution reflects the Company’s confidence in its business model and long-term strategy and is consistent with its targeted annualized distribution rate of $3.56 per LP unit for 2018.


“As we head into our core operating season, we remain enthusiastic about our plans, progress and potential – driven by our 2018 initiatives and the highly talented associates at our parks,” said Zimmerman.  “We have a solid line-up of new attractions for 2018, including four new world-class coasters and the continued investment in the growing market of Charlotte, North Carolina, with the expansion of our PEANUTS-themed children’s area at Carowinds.  In addition, we expect immersive, multi-week special events and unique culinary offerings to be key drivers of success at each of our parks in 2018.”

In February, the Company announced that it had finalized a deal to build a 129-room SpringHill Suites hotel adjacent to Carowinds, which should come on line in late 2019.  “We continue to pursue complementary development opportunities adjacent to our parks that will drive incremental attendance and create a consistent revenue stream.  Along with the recent investments in the park, we expect the new Carowinds hotel to enhance the park’s position as a multi-day destination in the same way the hotel investments have done at Cedar Point.  And, we believe there are similar opportunities at our other properties,” continued Zimmerman.

The Company also continues to extend the operating season at many of its parks into November and December with its new WinterFest holiday celebrations.  With the introduction of WinterFest at Kings Dominion in 2018, more than half of Cedar Fair’s amusement parks will be in operation in November and December.  The Company continues to analyze the opportunity to bring this event to more parks in the future.

Zimmerman concluded by stating, “This is an exciting time for Cedar Fair as we prepare for our busiest time of the year and continue to execute on our strategies.  While the majority of our operating season is still ahead of us, based on early-season trends and confidence in our business model, we believe we are well positioned to deliver another outstanding year in 2018.  We remain confident in our ability to maintain the growth trajectory we have produced for the past several years, which supports our commitment to a steady 4% increase in our annual distribution rate going forward.”

Click her for Cedar Fair’s 10Q filing with the SEC

[/tab][tab title=”SeaWorld”]

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, on May 8 reported its financial results for the first quarter of 2018.

First Quarter 2018 Highlights

Total revenue increased by $30.8 million or 16.5% to $217.2 million from the first quarter of 2017.

Attendance increased by 0.4 million or 14.9% to 3.2 million guests from the first quarter of 2017.

Net loss was $62.8 million, compared to a net loss of $61.1 million in the first quarter of 2017. Net loss includes approximately $21.5 million of pre-tax expenses associated with separation-related costs and a legal settlement accrual in the first quarter of 2018. The Company typically incurs a net loss in the first quarter because only five of its 12 parks are open for the full quarter.

Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of $0.1 million, an improvement of $30.2 million over the first quarter of 2017 and the highest first quarter Adjusted EBITDA the Company has reported since 2013. The first quarter 2018 Adjusted EBITDA calculation does not reflect certain add-back adjustments due to limitations in the Company’s credit agreement (see accompanying tables).

“We are happy about the progress we made in the first quarter and the continued positive results we are seeing year-to-date in April and are laser focused on continuing to execute as we enter the peak summer season,” said John Reilly, Interim Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “Our first quarter results were mainly driven by our new marketing and communications initiatives, the anticipation and receptivity of our new rides, attractions and events and new promotional pricing strategies.  Attendance also benefited from the earlier timing of the Easter holiday in 2018.  Despite this strong start to the year, we know we have significant opportunity for further improvement.  In addition to positive attendance trends, we also saw an over 10% increase in season pass sales revenue and an increase in total revenue per capita driven by a 6.4% increase in in-park per capita spending.”

“As we think about 2018, we are encouraged by the positive year-to-date results through April for attendance, season pass sales and total revenue, despite unfavorable weather in some of our key markets that negatively impacted attendance and limited operating days in some of our parks,” continued Reilly.  “We are driving additional attendance, revenue and Adjusted EBITDA through our enhanced communications activities, the anticipation and receptivity of our new rides, attractions and events, more focused operational execution, improved pricing strategies and a relentless focus on efficiencies.  As a reminder, this year we have one of the most compelling line-ups we have ever had of new rides, attractions and events across our parks.  We have Electric Eel in San Diegoand Infinity Falls in Orlando still to be opened; we have our one-of-a-kind Sesame Parade in San Diego and still to launch in San Antonio; and this summer we have our award winning Electric Ocean event coming to each of our SeaWorld parks and our Summer Nights event coming to each of our Busch Gardens parks.  As we stated in February, we expect to deliver the remainder of our previously announced $40.0 million in total net cost savings and the additional $25.0 million of cost savings we announced in late 2017 by the end of 2018.  We believe we have significant scope to improve the financial performance of this Company and with our biggest quarters still ahead of us we believe we are well-positioned to make real progress towards that goal in 2018.”

First Quarter 2018 Results

In the first quarter of 2018, the Company hosted approximately 3.2 million guests, generated total revenues of $217.2 million, and incurred a net loss of $62.8 million and an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $0.1 million. Net loss includes approximately $21.5 million of pre-tax expenses associated with separation-related costs and a legal settlement accrual recorded in the first quarter of 2018.   The Company believes the improved attendance results from a combination of factors including the Company’s new marketing and communications initiatives, the anticipation and receptivity of new rides, attractions and events and new promotional pricing strategies.  Attendance also benefited from a positive impact from the earlier timing of the Easter holiday in 2018, which impacted the timing of spring break for a number of schools from the Company’s key markets.   Revenue was positively impacted by the strong increases in attendance and in-park per capita spending (defined as food, merchandise and other revenue divided by total attendance) partially offset by lower admission per capita (defined as admissions revenue divided by total attendance). The decline in admission per capita primarily results from the park attendance mix, among other factors, partially offset by net price increases in admission products when compared to the first quarter of 2017. Adjusted EBITDA was positively impacted by increases in attendance, total revenue per capita and the impact of an increased focus on cost efficiencies and the realization of cost savings initiatives. The first quarter 2018 Adjusted EBITDA calculation does not reflect certain add-back adjustments due to limitations in the Company’s credit agreement. There were no limitations in the first quarter of 2017.

Click here for SeaWorld’s 10q filing with the SEC




Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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