From the press release:
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today announced results for its third quarter ended Sept. 27, 2020.
“Despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, we continue to take positive steps to bridge the crisis and position the Company for a return to historical performance levels as quickly as possible,” said Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman. “While operations continue to be challenged, we are very pleased with how demand trends have continued to improve at the parks that have reopened, and we are encouraged by the learnings and momentum we’ve gained heading into 2021. Attendance has progressed from a range of 20% to 25% of comparable prior year levels upon the initial reopening of parks in late June and early July, to 35% to 40% over the last three months.
“The progress we’ve made in reopening parks and driving attendance recovery demonstrates the enduring strength of our regional brands and the loyalty of the guest base in each of our markets,” added Zimmerman. “We remain confident that we will successfully emerge from this challenge a stronger and more profitable company.”
As previously reported, the Company suspended operations of its parks beginning on March 14, 2020, in response to the spread of COVID-19 and local government mandates, which has had a significant impact on 2020 financial performance thus far. In accordance with local and state guidelines, the Company resumed partial operations this year at seven of its parks on a staggered basis beginning in mid-June through mid-July. Only two parks – Cedar Point and Kings Island – remained open after the Labor Day weekend, operating on weekends through Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020. During the third quarter, Knott’s Berry Farm reopened portions of the park to host themed festivals with limited offerings.
Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Company, results for the third-quarter ended Sept. 27, 2020, include the partial operations of only seven parks and are not directly comparable to results for the 2019 third quarter ended Sept. 29, 2019, which included the full operations of the legacy Cedar Fair parks as well as operations of the two Schlitterbahn water parks acquired on July 1, 2019. With six of the Company’s 13 properties remaining closed in 2020, the third quarter had a total of 314 operating days, compared to 1,035 operating days in the prior-year period.
Net revenues for the third quarter ended Sept. 27, 2020, totaled $87 million versus $715 million for the third quarter of 2019. The decrease in net revenues was the direct result of an 11.9 million-visit decrease in attendance and a $47 million decrease in out-of-park revenues, both shortfalls due to COVID-19-related park closures and operating calendar changes in the current period, as well as soft demand upon reopening.
In-park per capita spending decreased by 5% to $47.29 compared to $49.94 in the third quarter of 2019. In-park per capita spending increases in food, merchandise and games, collectively up 18% in the period, were more than offset by decreases in guest spending on admissions and extra-charge attractions, primarily front-of-the-line Fast Lane products. The decrease in admissions spending was the result of a higher mix of season pass visitation in the quarter (55%) compared to the same period last year (46%). Excluding the impact of season passes, non-season pass admission spending on all other ticket types was up 4% in the quarter.
Fewer operating days, combined with cost-saving measures implemented in response to suspended park operations in the third quarter, led to a decrease in operating costs and expenses in the period. For the third quarter, operating costs and expenses totaled $141 million compared with $369 million for the third quarter of 2019. Depreciation and amortization expense in the quarter was $67 million versus $68 million for the 2019 third quarter. The $16 million loss on impairment of goodwill and other intangibles for the current quarter was triggered by the anticipated impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and included impairment of goodwill at the Schlitterbahn parks and Dorney Park, and the Schlitterbahn trade name.
After the items noted above, the operating loss for the third quarter totaled $137 million, compared with operating income of $275 million in the third quarter of 2019. The operating loss was the result of the 88% decline in net revenues, offset by a $229 million decrease in operating costs and expenses compared with the third quarter of 2019.
Interest expense for the third quarter was $40 million, up from $28 million in the third quarter of 2019 due to incremental interest incurred on the Company’s 2025 senior notes issued in April 2020, offset somewhat by less interest incurred on term debt. The net effect of the Company’s swaps resulted in a $2 million benefit to earnings during the third quarter of 2020, compared with a $4 million charge to earnings in the same period last year. The difference reflects the change in fair market value movements in the Company’s swap portfolio. During the third quarter of 2020, the Company also recognized a $10 million net benefit to earnings for foreign currency gains and losses related to the U.S.-dollar denominated Canadian notes, compared with a $6 million net charge to earnings for the third quarter of 2019.
During the third quarter of 2020, a benefit for taxes of $30 million was recorded to account for publicly traded partnership taxes and federal, state, local and foreign income taxes compared to a tax provision of $49 million in the third quarter of 2019. The increase in benefit for taxes was attributable to an increase in pretax loss, as well as expected benefits from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
After the items above, the Company reported a net loss of $136 million, or $2.41 per diluted LP unit, in the 2020 third quarter. This compares with net income of $190 million, or $3.34 per diluted LP unit, for the 2019 third quarter. The 2020 third quarter produced an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $51 million compared with Adjusted EBITDA of $355 million for the same quarter in 2019. The net loss and the Adjusted EBITDA loss in the third quarter are attributable to the COVID-19 disruption on attendance in the period, offset in part by effective cost management. See the attached table for a reconciliation of Net (loss) income to Adjusted EBITDA.
Balance Sheet and Liquidity Update
Despite the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19, the Company’s season pass base increased by approximately 90,000 units, or 5%, since mid-June and the staggered reopening of seven parks. At the end of the third quarter, deferred revenues totaled $193 million, representing an increase of $44 million, or 30%, from this same time last year. The Company currently has approximately 1.8 million season passes outstanding and valid through the end of the 2021 season.
To provide for incremental liquidity should the pandemic create an extended disruption, the Company recently announced the completion of a private offering of $300 million of 6.500% senior unsecured notes due in 2028. Prior to announcing the $300 million bond offering, the Company also successfully amended its credit facilities to further suspend and revise certain financial covenants by an additional year, and obtained agreement to extend the maturity on $300 million of its revolving credit facilities through Dec. 31, 2023. Under terms of the amendment, the covenant waiver period was extended from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the fourth quarter of 2021, and the covenant modification period was extended by one year through the end of 2022.
“We saw an opportunity while market conditions were attractive to further improve liquidity and provide the Company with additional financial flexibility, actions we view as an insurance policy against the uncertain outlook around the speed to recovery,” said Zimmerman. “We greatly appreciate and value the continued support from our long-tenured bank group and are extremely pleased with the market’s ongoing confidence in our business as demonstrated by the successful notes offering.”
As of Sept. 27, 2020, the Company had cash on hand of $225 million, compared with a balance of $301 million as of June 28, 2020, which represents an average cash burn rate(1) of approximately $25 million per month during the third quarter. Inclusive of net proceeds from the recent notes offering and $359 million of undrawn capacity under its revolving credit facility, the Company would have had total liquidity of $877 million as of the end of the third quarter. Based on this level of liquidity, we have concluded we will have sufficient liquidity to satisfy our obligations and remain in compliance with our debt covenants through the end of 2021.
Zimmerman noted the Company is committed to reopening all of its properties for the 2021 season, while adding back many of the immersive events and attractions for which its parks are well known, including this year’s milestone anniversary celebrations the Company chose to postpone at Cedar Point and Knott’s Berry Farm as a result of the pandemic.
“As we look to return our business to some sense of normalcy, we acknowledge visibility around COVID-19 remains poor,” said Zimmerman. “Therefore, our plans for the 2021 season will provide our parks with maximum flexibility to tailor operations and programming as necessary in such a dynamic environment.”
Zimmerman concluded by adding, “Our teams are fully committed to executing upon a strategy for 2021 that taps into what we believe will be meaningful pent-up consumer demand to visit our parks and experience what’s new and improved since their last visit. At the same time, we remain focused on maintaining a disciplined approach around cash outflows, identifying and driving incremental system-wide operating efficiencies, and investing in new capabilities aimed at capitalizing on emerging shifts in consumer behavior and preferences.”
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