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Six Flags Tumbles on Fourth-Quarter Miss, Dividend Cut

Six Flags Entertainment shares are lower after the theme-park operator missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter expectations and slashed its dividend. The company also said the CFO would retire.

Six Flags Entertainment (SIX) - Get Six Flags Entertainment Corporation Report shares took a steep drop after the theme-park operator missed Wall Street's fourth-quarter expectations, slashed its dividend, and said its chief financial officer would retire.

The Grand Prairie, Texas, company reported a net loss of $11 million, or 13 cents a share, compared with earnings of $79 million, or 93 cents, in the year-earlier period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had been calling for earnings of 14 cents a share.

Revenue totaled $261 million, down from $269.5 million a year earlier but beating FactSet's consensus estimate of $260.1 million. 

Attendance declined 3%, while admission spending per person fell 2% and in-park spending per person rose 3%.

Six Flags Q4 Earnings graphic

Looking ahead to 2020, Six Flags said it expected adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $435 million to $465 million, missing FactSet's call for $533 million.

Six Flags pared the quarterly dividend to 25 cents a share from 83 cents, payable March 11 to holders of record March 4.

"The company is facing challenges related to its base business," Six Flags said in a statement. "Soft organic revenue trends, and increasing operating-cost headwinds, primarily related to higher minimum and market wages, will be difficult to overcome in 2020."

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The board and management thus "concluded that the company needs to make incremental investments in the base business to enhance the guest experience," the statement said.

During 2019, Six Flags said, the company’s partner in China defaulted on its payment obligations and the company terminated its development agreements. 

The company is unlikely to recognize any revenue or profit in 2020 related to the development of parks in China, Six Flags said.

Separately, Marshall Barber, executive vice president and CFO, plans to retire, effective Aug. 31, after four years in the position. He will serve as CFO through Feb. 24.

At last check Six Flags shares were off 16% at $31.92.