SeaWorld Entertainment reported dismal attendance numbers for the first half of 2016, and the stock is nosediving.
SeaWorld reported earnings right in line with analyst expectations at $0.21 per share, however they missed on revenue with a reported $371.1 million for the second quarter against analyst expectations of $375.1 million.
Additionally, the company lowered it’s guidance for profits this year projecting EBITDA of $310 million to $340 million, lower than their previous projection of $335 million to $365 million
The biggest factor, however, is attendance. Attendance at the company’s parks has been on the decline for some time after the documentary “Blackfish” took aim at SeaWorld’s controversial treatment of their famous orcas. This inspired backlash against the parks and contributed to the decline in attendance.
Attendance for the second quarter was down by 494,000 guests compared to the same quarter in 2015, a 7.6% drop.
The company had been heavily investing in a positive public relations campaign to turn around attendance and has even announced it will phase out its ownership of orcas and theatrical shows featuring the whales, its main attraction, due to animal welfare concerns.
CEO Joel Manby tried to explain the drop in a release accompanying earnings:
“While implementation of our plan through the first half of 2016 is delivering early indications of progress outside of Florida, second quarter overall was below expectations we shared in May, primarily due to an accelerated decline in Latin American guests at our Florida park locations, an overall downturn in the Orlando market in the latter half of June, and the impact of Tropical Storm Colin. Latin American attendance is down approximately 40%, or 235,000 guests year-to-date.”
The release did not offer an explanation why Latin American attendance had dropped so significantly.
Following the news, SeaWorld’s stock fell 13.75%, down $2.04 to $12.80 a share as of 10:03 a.m. ET. Over the past 2 years, the stock is now down over 50%.