The leisure industry analysts at Citi believe SeaWorld will finally experience attendance growth at its parks in 2015 and 2016.
“Air traffic into the Orlando airport suggests a beneficial trend for SeaWorld,” Citi’s Jason Bazinet said.
“Since, October 2014 domestic passengers have experienced the most robust growth since 2010. Furthermore, international passengers into the Orlando airport have grown double digits since May 2014. While just 30% of SeaWorld’s total attendance pertains to the Orlando parks, we believe this data foreshadows a potential broader uptick in recreational spending.”
Recreational spending is something that comes with an improving economy in which jobs are growing and wages are increasing.
This is particularly good news for SeaWorld, which has seen attendance suffer in recent years.
The company has been struggling to repair its public image in the wake of “Blackfish,” a CNN documentary that claims the amusement park’s captive orca whales are under immense psychological pressure which is turning them into killers. “Blackfish” was released in 2013.
“We believe these positive recreational spending trends are apt to benefit SeaWorld parks. As such, we are now forecasting ~1.85% attendance growth in 2015 and 2016 (from 0%).”
Bazinet has a Buy rating on the stock, and on Tuesday he raised to price target to $US26 from $US21. He did not reference “Blackfish” in his note.
SeaWorld shares closed Thursday at $US21.67, down 43% since “Blackfish” premiered on July 19, 2013.