Six Flags earnings take giant drop

The Grand Prairie, Texas-based amusement park operator lost $11.2M

Six Flags Entertainment Corp. posted a fourth-quarter loss as attendance at its amusement parks dwindled.

The Grand Prairie, Texas-based amusement park operator lost $11.2 million, or 13 cents a share, a sharp reversal from its $79.4 million profit a year ago. Revenue fell 3% year-over-year to $261 million as park admissions, spending on food and merchandise and sponsorships slipped.

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The numbers of visitors to its parks -- home to Kingda Ka, the world's tallest coaster, in New Jersey, and the iconic wooden Great American Scream Machine in Atlanta -- dropped 3% while revenue from sponsorships and lodging dropped 1%.

CFO Marshall Barber announced plans to retire, effective Aug. 31, 2020. He will remain in his current role until Feb. 24, and help with his successor's transition into the role afterward.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SIX SIX FLAGS ENTERTAINMENT CORP. 37.87 +0.42 +1.14%

“We are working diligently to formulate a new strategic plan with the goal of restoring sustainable growth in attendance, revenue and profitability, and also to add directors with critical skills and experiences to our board,” CEO Mike Spanos said in a statement.

Six Flags' fourth-quarter loss pared the company's full-year profit to $179 million, or $2.11 a share, a 35 percent decrease from the prior year. Annual revenue rose 2 percent to $1.5 billion as attendance rose 2 percent, helping to make up for a drop in guest spending per capita.

Guest spending per capita slipped 21 cents to $42.37, mostly due to lower spending in the six parks that Six Flags began operating in 2018.

Looking ahead, Six Flags expects adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization this year of $435 million to $465 million, adding that soft organic revenue trends and higher operating costs due to wage increases and park upgrades will be "difficult to overcome."

As a result, Six Flags slashed its dividend by 70 percent to 25 cents per share.

The company will hold an investor day on May 28 to share its new strategic plan.

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Six Flags shares fell 15.7 percent this year through Wednesday, compared with the S&P 500's 4.8 percent gain.