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SeaWorld reports revenue down, major drop in attendance

Attendance declines by approximately 732,000 this quarter compared to last year

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(Matt Stroshane/Getty Images)

ORLANDO, Fla – SeaWorld's third quarter results show that everything is not going swimmingly for the company.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., reported a third quarter total revenue of $437.7 million; down $47.6 million compared to a total revenue of $485.3 million at this same period in 2016.

Net income was also reported at $55 million, or $0.64 per diluted share, down $10.7 million compared to a net income of $65.7 million, or $0.77 per diluted share, seen in the third quarter of 2016.

Revenues have been significantly impacted by a major year-to-year decrease in attendance numbers, down 732,000 guests in comparison to the third quarter of 2016.

The hit in attendance can be directly attributed to impacts on the areas of it's three biggest parks: San Antonio, Orlando and San Diego. Attendance at SeaWorld San Antonio and SeaWorld Orlando was adversely affected by the Hurricanes Harvey and Irma respectively, which forced park closures and major travel disruptions. SeaWorld San Diego was affected by a general decline in attendance from the Southern California market.

Further, SeaWorld said that it believes the decline in Orlando came in conjunction with less general advertising nationally, and that in San Diego public perception issues have returned after the company scaled by marketing spending on its national reputation campaign. 

SeaWorld has been undergoing rebranding efforts in the past few years, transitioning from more of an entertainment company to an animal conservation. These efforts have come mostly in conjunction with major hits to attendance and reputation that followed the release of the 2013 documentary "Blackfish," which explored the lives of its orcas in captivity.

SeaWorld did report that it expects to achieve its target of $40 million in net cost savings by the end of 2018. In addition, the company also put together a restructuring program to increase efficiencies that has resulted in an additional $25 million in cost saving opportunities.

On the company's latest financial reportings, SeaWorld President and CEO, Joel Manby said, "This quarter, we made progress implementing the targeted actions we outlined in August to stabilize our business and to drive sustainable growth, while continuing to advance the core elements of our five-point plan. We finalized our new 'From Park to Planet' national advertising and marketing campaign, which was named the top breakthrough ad for the third quarter by a leading marketing research firm, and we continued to develop and test pricing initiatives which are driving early positive results with our 2018 season pass sales."

He continued to offer positive sentiment for the negative results with, "More recently, attendance trends have improved since we launched our Fall and Halloween events in late September. We remain confident in our plan to drive growth over time by addressing reputational challenges and creating fun and meaningful guest experiences, while maintaining a sharp focus on financial discipline."