SeaWorld Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens, reported second-quarter profit that more than doubled from the same quarter last year, when it was deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. And even though attendance was down from 2019 highs, the company exceeded market expectations.
The company, which owns theme parks nationwide including Busch Gardens in Tampa and Orlando’s SeaWorld, Aquatica and Discovery Cove, said it was closing the gap on the post-coronavirus drop in attendance, and also notes an increase in visitor spending.
In its second quarter report on Thursday, the company said net profit of $ 127.8 million, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier. On a per share basis, the Orlando-based company reported earnings of $ 1.59 per share, while market forecasts predicted a decline of 32 cents per share.
Attendance was 5.8 million guests, an increase of 5.5 million guests compared to the second quarter of 2020. Compared to the second quarter of 2019, attendance decreased by 10%. But at the start of this year in its first quarter report, attendance was down almost 20% from the same period in 2019, so company officials saw the increase in attendance as a good sign, especially in July.
“I am pleased to report that, despite continuing to operate in a very difficult environment affected by COVID-19, the momentum from the first quarter continued into the second quarter and we reported strong financial results in the second quarter, including record revenue and net profit. said Marc Swanson, CEO of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
The biggest bright spot in the second quarter was spending in the park at $ 33.84 million, an 11.6% increase from the same period in 2020, and it’s even a jump from the second quarter of 2019, when spending in the park for that quarter was reported at $ 27.57 million.
Total revenue hit a record $ 439.8 million, boosting its share price to close at $ 51.30 per share on Thursday.
“While its attendance was still significantly below its pre-pandemic level (despite a major improvement over its evaporation a year ago),” CFRA Research said in a statement elevating its opinion on SeaWorld as ‘investment. “SEAS is increasingly expected to harvest pent-up demand” for entertainment, he said.
Swanson was asked by investors on an earnings call about the impact of COVID-19, particularly internationally travel, and that Florida is one of the states hardest hit by the highly contagious delta variant, which has spread through unvaccinated populations.
Swanson said international travel typically accounts for 10% of its attendance. If international travelers had returned, that number of participants would not have fallen by 10%, “but more likely increased by a number”.
As for the delta variant, he said July’s high attendance figures told him it was not affecting theme park attendance.
“Obviously we know it’s out there and it’s on people’s minds, but we don’t see any impact or change in footfall related to the Delta variant,” Swanson said.
Swanson thanked his money management team for finding more ways to increase spending in the park without hurting the visitor experience. This includes special events such as food and wine festivals, Halloween after hours of Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens and, for the first time, at SeaWorld this fall.
“The new locations, from ice cream parlors and cafes to new bars in the parks,” Swanson said, have helped fuel per capita spending. Once again this year, Busch Gardens opened the new Giraffe Bar in March at Serengeti Overlook, where patrons can observe giraffes, zebras and antelopes while sipping cocktails.
And the company is rolling out a new mobile app, at SeaWorld Orlando for now but not yet in all of its parks, which will also add value as a mobile ordering feature for restaurants.
However, there was no word on two of the biggest attractions slated to open in Florida in 2020. The Iron Gwazi roller coaster at Busch Gardens and Ice Breaker at SeaWorld have yet to announce opening dates.