SeaWorld Entertainment's stock fell by more than 13 percent Thursday after the Orlando-based operator of SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks reported poor attendance numbers for the first half of 2016.
Second-quarter attendance was down 494,000 visitors because of a decline in attendance at the company's Florida park locations and a shift in the timing of holidays in 2016, which affected nearly all of its park locations, the company said. Florida attendance decreased primarily because of a decline in Latin American attendance, softness in the Orlando market and the adverse impact of Tropical Storm Colin.
"Latin American attendance is down approximately 40 percent, or 235,000 guests year-to-date," said SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby. Brazilian tourism, a bulwark of Florida's recent record tourism run, has dropped sharply because of that country's weak economy and falling currency value.
SeaWorld Entertainment revenues in the quarter ended June 30 were $371.1 million, down from $391.6 million in the same period of 2015. Net income rose in the latest quarter to $17.8 million from $5.8 million a year earlier when the impact of the Blackfish documentary critical of SeaWorld's treatment of its captive killer whales was most pronounced. For the first six months of 2016, however, SeaWorld has suffered a $66.3 million loss.
Manby hinted things at its Orlando park and at Tampa's Busch Gardens might soon improve. "Early indications for the third quarter have also been encouraging as our new rides are receiving positive reviews and have contributed to year-over-year attendance gains in Florida for July," he said. Two coaster-styled rides — Mako at SeaWorld Orlando and Cobra's Curse at Busch Gardens — recently opened for business.