SeaWorld Entertainment released its third-quarter results for 2014, and depending on which side of the debate over the marine-themed parks you're on (Blackfish bad, SeaWorld good or SeaWorld bad, Blackfish good), the news is either thrilling or infuriating. According to a document posted to seaworldinvestors.com, the park experienced lower attendance, decreased revenue and a drop in net income in this quarter compared to where it was during the third quarter of 2013.
Approximately 8.4 million people visited the parks this quarter, compared to 8.9 million in 2013, and revenue is down $42.6 million. The news follows disappointing earnings from the second quarter, as well, which resulted in a lawsuit by investors who felt the company knew the film would have an impact on the bottom line and failed to disclose that to investors. A copy of the legal complaint can be viewed here.
"The attendance trends the Company experienced in the latter part of the second quarter continued into the third quarter. Clearly 2014 has been a challenging year, but I am confident we are taking the necessary steps to address our near term challenges and position the Company to deliver value over the long term,” said Jim Atchison, CEO and President of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “We are executing a cost savings plan that is expected to deliver approximately $50 million of annual cost savings by the end of 2015.
While SeaWorld doesn't name names (cough, Blackfish) it notes that "negative media attention in California," as well as a "challenging competitive environment, particularly in Florida" are to blame for its disappointing earnings. "New attraction offerings at competitor destination parks" and a delay in the scheduled opening of new rides at Busch Gardens in Tampa are cited specifically.
The company's solution to the problem? Besides tightening belts, it plans to open attractions in new markets, especially in the Middle East and Asia. "We have extended our Memorandum of Understanding and continue to work with our partners in the Middle East evaluating the business plan, technical models, and proposed agreements for a multi-park development," Aitchison is quoted as saying in the third-quarter report. "The first phase of the project is expected to open in 2020. We also continue to work with Village Roadshow Theme Parks on development opportunities in Asia and other international markets."