SeaWorld losses widen for the year, CEO Manby departs

SeaWorld's CEO Joel Manby is stepping down from his post as the theme park operator posted a fourth-quarter loss and continues to work on transforming its business.

The company said Tuesday that John Reilly, chief parks operations officer, will take over as interim CEO. Chairman Yoshikazu Maruyama will serve as interim executive chairman until a permanent CEO is named. At that point, he will resume his position as chairman.

For the three months ended Dec. 31, SeaWorld lost $20.4 million, or 24 cents per share. The Orlando, Florida-based company had a loss of $11.9 million, or 14 cents per share, a year earlier.

The performance was worse than the per-share loss of 18 cents that Wall Street had expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Quarterly revenue of $265.5 million beat out analyst projections for $260.1 million.

Attendance declined 2.7 percent, but in-park spending climbed slightly.

Attendance has suffered at SeaWorld since the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" suggested that the company's treatment of animals may have led to the deaths of trainers. It announced last year that it would not breed killer whales and would stop using them in shows.

Annual losses widened to $202.4 million, or $2.36 per share. Revenue fell to $1.26 billion from $1.34 billion, the fourth straight year of declines.

Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. slipped 21 cents to $15.53 in midday trading.


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