NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of SeaWorld Entertainment jumped Tuesday after the company topped Wall Street expectations and reported a boost in attendance during the first quarter.
The stock gained $1.35, or 8.5 percent, to $17.22 in morning trading on the key attendance boost during the first three months of the year where most of its theme parks are still closed. The company has been trying to rebuild its image and boost attendance since 2013, when the documentary “Blackfish” suggested that the company’s treatment of animals may have led to the deaths of trainers.
It announced last year that it would not breed killer whales and would stop using them in shows.
Attendance rose 14.9 percent during the period to 3.2 million guests.
“Our first-quarter results were mainly driven by our new marketing and communications initiatives, the anticipation and receptivity of our new rides, attractions and events and new promotional pricing strategies,” said John Reilly, interim CEO. “Attendance also benefited from the earlier timing of the Easter holiday in 2018.”
The Orlando, Florida-based company lost $62.8 million, or 73 cents per share, compared with a loss of $61.1 million, or 72 cents per share, a year earlier. Losses, adjusted for non-recurring costs, were 53 cents per share. Revenue rose 16.5 percent to $217.2 million.
SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., which operates 12 theme parks, typically reports a loss in the first quarter because it only has five parks open during the period. It has SeaWorld parks in Texas, Florida, and California, along with Busch Gardens parks in Florida and Virginia. The company also operates Sesame Place in Pennsylvania.
SeaWorld shares have increased 17 percent since the beginning of the year. The stock has declined slightly more than 9 percent in the last 12 months.
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