Six Flags cash flow positive for year on rise in revenue, per cap and attendance

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Six Flags, Inc. announced today its operating results for the year and quarter ended December 31, 2008.

Commenting on the Company's performance, Mark Shapiro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags, Inc., said: "The three-year turnaround for Six Flags required a great deal of patience. I am proud and grateful that the efforts and commitment of our workforce -- some 30,000 strong -- resulted in our best year ever, putting our operations back on solid footing. The remaining challenge is the inherited balance sheet and we are in comprehensive dialogue with our lenders to remedy that issue."

For the year ended December 31, 2008, total revenues increased $50.5 million, or 5%, to $1.02 billion from $970.8 million in the prior year. Attendance for the year was 25.3 million, an increase of 0.4 million, or 2%, compared to 24.9 million in the prior year. The attendance increase was driven by increased paid admissions, partially offset by planned reductions of approximately 0.5 million in complimentary and free promotional attendance.

Total revenue per capita for the year increased $1.31, or 3%, to $40.30 from $38.99 in the prior year, reflecting increased per capita guest spending as well as growth in sponsorship, licensing and other fees. Increased per capita guest spending of $0.53, or 1%, to $37.97 from $37.44 in the prior year was driven by increased rentals, food and beverages, parking, admissions and retail revenues. Sponsorship, licensing and other fees increased $20.4 million, or 53%, to $59.0 million.

Operating costs and expenses, including cost of sales, depreciation, amortization, stock-based compensation and loss on disposal of assets, decreased $55.4 million, or 6%, to $877.3 million for 2008, compared to $932.7 million in 2007. Key planned reductions were achieved in marketing, loss on disposal of assets, third party services, repairs and maintenance, travel-related expenses, supplies and seasonal labor.

Income from continuing operations before income taxes was $19.4 million, an improvement of $252.4 million over the prior year pre-tax loss of $233.0 million. The improved results reflect a net gain on debt extinguishment of $107.7 million compared to a $13.2 million loss on debt extinguishment for 2007, increased revenues of $50.5 million, reduced operating costs and expenses of $55.4 million, a $5.5 million reduction in net other expense, and reduced net interest expense of $21.5 million. The lower net other expense reflects the 2008 loss related to an interest rate hedge that no longer qualified for hedge accounting treatment, compared to the prior year's cost of settling a class-action labor lawsuit in California and costs associated with implementation of an early retirement plan. The reduced net interest expense resulted from lower long-term debt and interest rates in 2008.

Adjusted EBITDA for 2008 was $275.3 million, an $85.7 million improvement over the prior-year's Adjusted EBITDA of $189.6 million, reflecting increased revenues and reduced cash operating costs and expenses.

The Company's Preferred Income Redeemable Shares ("PIERS") are required to be redeemed for cash on August 15, 2009 for $287.5 million plus accrued and unpaid dividends, which totaled $15.6 million at December 31, 2008. The Company does not expect to have sufficient cash to redeem the PIERS at their redemption date. The PIERS redemption is just one component of the comprehensive restructuring of the balance sheet that the Company is pursuing. Accordingly, the Company's 2008 Annual Report on Form 10-K will include the disclosure of risk factors associated with the Company's liquidity, pending PIERS maturity and the restructuring effort.

Read the entire press release on PR Newswire.

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