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Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc (NYSE: SEAS) jumped 20.6% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence, after reporting third-quarter earnings, but it was hope that the future may be getting brighter that really helped the stock last month.
The quarter's results weren't all that great, with revenue falling 2.3% to $485.3 million and net income falling 33% to $65.7 million, or $0.77 per share. The top end of EBITDA guidance for the full year was also reduced by $10 million to a range of $310 million to $340 million.
What investors latched onto this quarter was the potential for improvement. Some short-term impacts like Hurricane Hermine and a decline in visitors from Latin America, have hurt results of late, but those challenges are subsiding. Management said that attendance would have been up 4% in Florida without the Latin America impact, so there could be growth ahead. And if there's even a little growth in 2017 and beyond we could see a big recovery for the beaten-up stock.
For now, a recovery at SeaWorld is a little speculative given that revenues and earnings are still in decline and the stock's move is based on what could happen. That's why I'd like to see stronger numbers before jumping into SeaWorld stock. In early 2017 we'll be able to see if Latin American visitors are returning and if the new attractions have some staying power with customers. Management may be seeing a little evidence of that, but I'd remain skeptical until we really start to see the income statement showing the progress.
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