The negative publicity surrounding SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. from the "Blackfish" documentary is starting to bottom out, paving the way for the company to return to growth, according to Credit Suisse analyst Joel Simkins, who reiterated an outperform rating on the stock Wednesday morning. While the company has an uphill battle generating positive consumer buzz, he believes the negative sentiment surrounding SeaWorld has reached an inflection point, and that the company is ready to capitalize on improvements in pricing and attendance that will help boost margins, as it continues to reposition the brand and promote other parts of its business, such as thrill rides. "We believe its challenges can be repaired over time and that there is near-term opportunity for it to capitalize on strong tourism demand to Florida and California," he said. "Online sentiment can't get much worse." Simkins' $27 12-month price target on the stock implies a 33% increase from Tuesday's closing price of $20.29. The stock was down 0.4% in premarket trade. Negative publicity contributed to sharp decline in attendance at SeaWorld parks in fiscal 2014.
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