Ouimet outlines future for Cedar Fair

Posted Friday, January 20, 2012 9:52 AM | Contributed by Jeff

[Ed. note: The following is an excerpt of a press release. -J]

Also: View the presentation deck (PDF).

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, hosted an investor meeting in New York City today at which its president and newly named chief executive officer, Matt Ouimet, outlined his long-term growth strategy – known as "FUNforward" – and the corresponding financial goals for the Company.

"This is truly an exciting time for Cedar Fair," said Ouimet. "Given our favorable industry dynamics – including significant barriers to entry and a loyal, high-repeat customer base – as well as the significant momentum we have created for the Company over the past two record-setting years, we see several attractive strategic growth opportunities in both the near and long term. We believe there are many compelling reasons for investors to choose Cedar Fair, and we are committed to rewarding them for their confidence in us with meaningful and sustainable value creation through a balanced approach of distributions, growth investments, debt reduction and unit repurchases."

Ouimet cited Cedar Fair's high-quality, well-maintained parks, its recognized stature within the industry as an innovation leader and its strong brand positioning as the core drivers of the Company's financial and operational momentum.

"We are very proud of our properties and the men and women who ensure families and thrill-seekers alike have the 'best-day-of-the-year' experience they expect when they visit one of our parks," Ouimet said. "It's not an accident that we enjoyed our second straight year of record attendance – 23.4 million guests – at our 17 locations across North America in 2011."

Cedar Fair's award-winning parks – including Cedar Point, which was named the number-one amusement park in the world for the 14th consecutive year, and Kings Island, which was voted "Best Kids' Area in the World" for the 11th straight year – are home to four of the top 11 steel coasters in the world and top-rated Halloween events.

"We believe we offer our guests compelling value by providing wholesome, exciting, quality experiences with the greatest thrill rides and family attractions, which is an especially strong entertainment proposition in today's discerning consumer market," Ouimet added. "Likewise, our goal is to continue to be a total return investment for our unitholders. Our recession-resistant business continues to generate strong free cash flow, which has allowed us to further strengthen our financial flexibility and make meaningful distributions to our unitholders while at the same time experiencing appreciation in our unit price."

Components of the FUNforward strategy include:

  • Enhanced guest experience – Maintaining an unwavering focus on delivering compelling value for the price paid, at every park on every day. In the near term, the Company will continue to add new rides and attractions while at the same time expanding evening event activities to provide enhanced value and extend the length of each visit.
  • Improved consumer messaging and relationship management – Modernizing the marketing and sales strategy and execution to ensure the Company is most effectively segmenting its customer base and speaking to each audience with messages that "break through the noise" and create the proper emotional connection that drives action within the operating season.
  • Dynamic pricing and advance purchase commitments – Incorporating a new e-commerce platform common to other industry players. The new platform will provide real-time data and dynamic pricing modification, while supporting incremental programs such as season pass installment sales and up-sell of benefits and value.
  • Premium product offerings – Expansion of premium experience offerings for benefit-oriented guests. Examples of this will include premium parking and dining experiences, "fast lanes" at various high-demand attractions and "Fright Lanes" during Halloween events, among other things.
  • Strategic alliance fees and promotional leverage – Industry benchmarking indicates an opportunity for the Company to expand its strategic alliances while still protecting the integrity of the guest experience.
  • Capital and expense productivity – Prioritizing capital to the highest return-on-invested-capital opportunities across the Company's portfolio, encouraging manufacturers to innovate at lower costs and remaining disciplined in the management of costs. The Company will also look to utilize its undeveloped land to drive additional park admissions through activities and investments that leverage its installed asset base.

"It's important to have a balanced mix between thrill rides and family attractions," said Ouimet. "We are investing approximately $90 million across all of our properties and have a very strong rides and attractions menu for the 2012 operating season."

OUTLOOK

According to Ouimet, the Company's preliminary results project 2011 net revenues to be approximately $1.028 billion, and project Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $375 million. Both projected net revenues and Adjusted EBITDA are at the high-end of the Company's most recent guidance of net revenues between $1.015 billion and $1.025 billion and Adjusted EBITDA between $365 million and $375 million.

"By 2016, we believe Adjusted EBITDA will be in excess of $450 million," he said.

The Company anticipates a 2012 annual distribution rate of $1.60 per unit, to be paid in $0.40 per unit cash installments, and a record 2013 annual distribution rate of more than $2.00 per unit. "As this record-setting 2013 target distribution would suggest, we are very excited about the future of Cedar Fair," said Ouimet.

Read the entire press release on PR Newswire.

Friday, January 20, 2012 10:04 AM

Sounds like Q-bot, or some variation of it, is coming to your nearest Cedar Fair park in the near future.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 10:07 AM

From the article: "..are home to four of the top 11 steel coasters in the world "

Quality? Height? Speed? Wonder which "rankings" he's referring to. Golden Tickets, mayhaps?

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Friday, January 20, 2012 11:04 AM

Yes, the deck footnotes AT.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 12:06 PM

Mulfinator said:
Sounds like Q-bot, or some variation of it, is coming to your nearest Cedar Fair park in the near future.

Or last year even. :)

---

"...benefit-oriented guests."

Holy crap. That's my new favorite phrase in the whole world. Expect me to use it as much as possible.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 12:53 PM

I must have missed that Gonch. I know there was discussion about a "pay-to-cut" system on the haunted attractions. I didn't realize it was implemented on rides last year.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 3:52 PM

Yes, at Kings Island they started with the rides and then Kings Island and Cedar Point both had it for Halloween.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 5:12 PM

I thought Knott's played with Fast Lane too. It's showing as a purchase option on the website, at least.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 7:46 PM

Fast Lane was in operation at Knott's when I visited in late December. The only places I saw it in operation were Silver Bullet and GhostRider. On Silver Bullet they had the last row of the train blocked off; onGhostRider they shut it down before I got upstairs, but think they were merging at the top of the stairs, holding the queue back in the lower queue house.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 9:12 PM

Good to know that Cedar Fair has finally gotten with the times. Did King's Island merge the fast lane with the regular queue at some point or block off rows like Knott's?

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Friday, January 20, 2012 9:22 PM

Blocking off rows is the wrong way to do it, unless you've got consistent volume and a way to not interfere with the standby line. The only immediate example I can think of is Mummy at USF, where they often use the entire one side of the station.

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Friday, January 20, 2012 10:43 PM

Blocking off the last row is also a bad idea because certain guests do like the back row of a train. It would be unfortunate that one would need to buy a fast pass to enjoy the back row.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012 12:10 AM

Honestly, I wouldn't look to Knott's as an operational example for anybody to follow. Of all the Cedar Fair parks I have visited, it is the only one that has left me annoyed and/or pissed off by their general operational incompetence (not to mention certain truly boneheaded policies and practices) on more than one occasion. They're getting better, but it sure seems like it tends to be as many steps backwards as forwards. I wouldn't assume that anything that Knott's does would translate to the rest of the chain; most of the ops people wouldn't stand for it.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012 10:35 AM

I believe all the Cedar Fair parks are getting it, according to the power point.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012 1:52 PM

"The Company will also look to utilize its undeveloped land to drive additional park admissions through activities and investments that leverage its installed asset base."

A bit vague on how they tend to drive admissions from undeveloped land. Investments sounds pretty standard such as expansions or hotels, but does anyone have an idea what they meant by "activities"?

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Saturday, January 28, 2012 4:02 PM

Hop Scotch

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Saturday, January 28, 2012 7:16 PM

[geaugalake][geaugalake]Cornhole.

[/geaugalake]


Edit: I originally just had the closing tag at the end, but the board software added the two at the beginning. I'm leaving it. :)

Last edited by birdhombre, Saturday, January 28, 2012 7:17 PM
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