Cedar Fair announces results, will raise distribution to $2.50 in 2013

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

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

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, reported record financial results through the third quarter ended September 30, 2012, and announced that the Company's Board approved an increase to its 2013 annual distribution rate from $1.60 per limited partner (LP) unit in 2012 to $2.50 per LP unit in 2013.

"In recognition of the Company's strong current-year performance and our positive outlook, I am extremely pleased with our Board's decision to increase our 2013 cash distribution to an annualized rate of $2.50 per limited partner unit in 2013," said Matt Ouimet, Cedar Fair's president and chief executive officer. "As we are on pace for a third straight year of record results, our cash flow is more than sufficient to cover this increased distribution rate, while we also steadily pay down debt and strategically invest in our business."

An increase in the distribution was anticipated, as the Company indicated since the beginning of the year that it intended to raise the distribution rate to more than $2.00 per LP unit in 2013. The first 2013 quarterly distribution will be paid on March 15, 2013.

Nine-Month Results

Net revenues through the fiscal 2012 third quarter increased to $939.2 million from $883.6 million through the fiscal third quarter ended September 25, 2011. Net income during this period was $111.6 million, or $2.00 per diluted LP unit, versus $71.6 million, or $1.28 per diluted LP unit, for the first nine months of 2011.

The increase in net revenues and net income through the third quarter resulted largely from the strength of the Company's operations combined with a 1% increase in the number of operating days in the period, due to the timing of the fiscal third-quarter close (39 weeks in 2012 vs. 38 weeks in 2011). Comparing both the 2012 and 2011 periods on a 39-week basis, total revenues were up approximately $41 million, or 5%; average in-park guest per capita spending1 increased 4%; attendance increased 1%, or 228,000 visits; and out-of-park revenues were comparable with the prior year.

Adjusted EBITDA, which management believes is a meaningful measure of the Company's park-level operating results, increased to $365.5 million for the first nine months of fiscal 2012, compared with $346.4 million for the fiscal nine months ended September 25, 2011. On a comparable 39-week basis, Adjusted EBITDA would have been up approximately $15 million, or 4%, compared with the period ended October 2, 2011. See the attached table for a reconciliation of Adjusted EBITDA to net income.

"We experienced another outstanding quarter and are well on our way to delivering record results for the third consecutive year," said Ouimet. "Our management team and employees have successfully executed the first-year implementation of the FUNforward initiatives we identified in January, enabling us to increase our average in-park guest per capita spending by 4% while maintaining our record attendance base. We remain confident in the strength and stability of our business model.

"Total revenues through the third quarter, on a same-week basis, increased across the majority of our parks, led by Canada's Wonderland and Cedar Point," continued Ouimet. "New rides and attractions -- including our immensely popular Leviathan roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland -- along with premium benefit offerings and our new e-commerce platform, have combined to contribute to these strong results. We believe there are additional opportunities to grow revenues and cash flow as we head into 2013 and our second year of executing our long-term strategy."

October Results

Based on preliminary October results, revenues through October 31, 2012 were $1.036 billion compared with $999 million for the same period a year ago. This is the result of a 4% increase in average in-park guest per capita spending to $42.00 and attendance levels that were comparable with last year's record results (22.7 million visits). Out-of-park revenues of approximately $108 million through October were also comparable with this time last year.

Cash and Liquidity

Brian Witherow, Cedar Fair's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said, "Our liquidity and cash flow remain strong. Our improved year-over-year performance on last year's record results has allowed us to further reduce our leverage in the third quarter and we anticipate additional measured debt reduction in the future. At the end of the quarter, our Consolidated Leverage Ratio2 was 3.9 times, down from 4.3 times at the end of the third quarter in 2011. By continuing to prudently manage our cash flows, we are able to maximize our financial flexibility and our ability to create value for unitholders in both the short and long term through debt reduction, capital investment and distributions."

As of September 30, 2012, the Company had $1.13 billion of variable-rate term debt (before giving consideration to $800 million of fixed-rate interest rate swaps), $400.7 million of fixed-rate bonds, no outstanding borrowings under its revolving credit facilities and cash on hand of $96.1 million. During the third quarter, the Company made a $9 million optional prepayment on its term debt and as a result, there are no scheduled debt payments due before 2015.

The Company also noted that credit facilities and cash flow from operations are expected to be sufficient to meet working capital needs, debt service, distributions and planned capital expenditures for the foreseeable future.

Distribution Declaration

The Company's Board of Directors also announced today the declaration of a 2012 fourth-quarter cash distribution of $0.40 per LP unit. The distribution will be paid on December 17, 2012, to holders of record as of December 5, 2012.


"As we head into the final quarter of 2012, we feel very good about our near-term outlook and long-range potential," said Ouimet. "Based on our performance to date and our expectations through the end of the year, we are confident in our ability to deliver a third consecutive year of record results with revenues between $1.055 billion and $1.075 billion and Adjusted EBITDA between $385 million and $395 million. "As another successful year comes to a close, Cedar Fair moves into 2013 with tremendous momentum," continued Ouimet. "We have a strong capital program in place for next year at all of our parks, which will be highlighted by the introductions of a record-setting roller coaster, GateKeeper, at our flagship park, Cedar Point, and a new world-class wooden coaster at California's Great America. Our marketing programs, including our 2013 season pass initiatives, are also well under way and we continue to enter into new agreements with strategic corporate alliances. In everything we do, we remain committed to delivering excellent value to our unitholders in the short term as well as delivering on our long-term growth goal of increasing Adjusted EBITDA to $450 million by 2016."

Read the entire press release from Cedar Fair.

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