Six Flags attendance, adjusted EBITDA up, company celebrates upsell to season passes

Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2018 10:04 AM | Contributed by Jeff

From the press release:

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, today announced that revenue for the third quarter of 2018 increased $39 million or 7 percent from the third quarter of 2017 to $620 million. The revenue growth was primarily driven by a 5 percent increase in attendance to 13.6 million guests, and a 42 percent increase in sponsorship, international agreement and accommodations revenue.

Net income1 for the quarter increased $3 million or 2 percent compared to the prior year period, and diluted earnings per share increased 2 percent to $2.16, primarily due to the growth in the business and the positive impact of tax reform, partially offset by an increase in stock-based compensation related to accounting for the company’s Project 600 award. Adjusted EBITDA2 in the third quarter of 2018 increased $6 million or 2 percent to $307 million compared to the prior-year period. Cash operating costs, including associated lease expense, increased 14 percent in the quarter primarily due to our five newly acquired parks, which have significantly lower margins than our existing parks. Foreign currency translation3 had a negative impact on Adjusted EBITDA in the third quarter of $1 million.

“We were pleased to achieve record revenue and Adjusted EBITDA for the first nine months of 2018, and we are on track for our ninth record year in a row,” said Jim Reid-Anderson, Chairman, President and CEO. “Our five key growth initiatives provide a strong platform for growth for many years to come: we are increasing ticket yields; enhancing recurring revenue through our new membership and loyalty programs and expanding our operating calendar; growing in park revenue, especially culinary sales; expanding our domestic footprint via targeted acquisitions; and pursuing additional Six Flags-branded international parks.”

Total guest spending per capita for the third quarter of 2018 was $43.02, which was an improvement of $0.08 compared to the third quarter of 2017. Ticket price gains and sales of premium membership tiers were partially offset by lower per capita spending in our five newly acquired parks and the deferral of a portion of new membership revenue into 2019. Admissions per capita increased 1 percent to $25.86 and in-park spending per capita decreased 1 percent to $17.16.

For the first nine months of 2018, revenue was $1.2 billion, an 8 percent improvement compared to the prior-year period, driven primarily by 6 percent growth in attendance and a 23 percent increase in sponsorship, international agreement and accommodations revenue. Net income grew $21 million or 12 percent and diluted earnings per share increased 17 percent to $2.30 driven by the growth in the business and the positive impact of tax reform, partially offset by an increase in stock-based compensation related to the accounting for the company’s Project 600 award. Adjusted EBITDA increased $26 million or 6% to $458 million.

Attendance at the company’s parks for the first nine months of 2018 grew to 25.7 million guests, an increase of 6 percent as compared to the first nine months of 2017. The increase in attendance was primarily driven by the five newly acquired parks, the two new waterparks in Mexico and California, and the benefit of 365-day operations at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Guest spending per capita increased 1 percent to $43.15 for the first nine months of 2018, with admissions per capita increasing 3 percent to $25.59 and in-park spending per capita decreasing 1 percent to $17.56.

The Active Pass Base, which represents the total number of guests who are enrolled in the company’s membership program or have a season pass, increased 9 percent year-over-year as a result of the company’s continued success in upselling guests from single day tickets to memberships and season passes. The mix of memberships in the Active Pass Base significantly increased as a result of the company’s roll-out of a new, premium-tiered membership program. Members are the company’s most loyal and valuable guests, with higher retention rates and higher revenue—especially from the premium membership tiers—compared to traditional season passes. Deferred revenue of $193 million, a record high for the third quarter, increased by $14 million or 8 percent over September 30, 2017, primarily due to incremental sales of memberships, season passes, and all-season dining passes.

In the first nine months of 2018, the company invested $112 million in new capital projects and $23 million, less net working capital and other customary adjustments, to acquire the lease rights to five new parks; paid $198 million in dividends, or $0.78 per common share per quarter; and repurchased $81 million of its common stock. The authorized amount available for additional share repurchases as of September 30, 2018, was $262 million. Net debt as of September 30, 2018, calculated as total reported debt of $2,062 million less cash and cash equivalents of $69 million, was $1,994 million, representing a 3.7 times Adjusted EBITDA net leverage ratio.

Read the entire press release from Six Flags.

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