Six Flags Entertainment's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (SIX)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

April 25, 2012 9:00 am ET

Executives

Nancy A. Krejsa – Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications

Jim Reid-Anderson – Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer

John M. Duffey – Chief Financial Officer

Alexander Weber, Jr. – Chief Operating Officer

Analysts

Ian Zaffino – Oppenheimer & Co.

Ian Corydon – B. Riley & Co.

Michael Broudo – Miller Tabak & Co.

Presentation

Operator

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Six Flags’ First Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference call. My name is Sherry, and I will be your operator for today’s call. At this time, all lines are in a listen-only mode. After the presentation, we will conduct a question-and-answer session. Today’s conference is being recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.

I will now turn the call over to Nancy Krejsa, Senior Vice President, Investor Relations and Corporate Communications for Six Flags.

Nancy A. Krejsa

Good morning and thank you for joining our call. With me today are Jim Reid-Anderson, Chairman, President, and CEO of Six Flags; Al Weber, Chief Operating Officer; and John Duffey, Chief Financial Officer.

We will begin our call with prepared comments, and then open the call to your questions. Our comments include forward-looking statements within the meanings of the Federal Securities Laws. These statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in such statements, and the company undertakes no obligation to update or revise these statements.

In addition, on the call we will discuss non-GAAP financial measures, investors can find both the detailed discussion of business risks and reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures to GAAP financial measures in the company’s Annual Report, Quarterly Reports or other forms filed and furnished with the SEC.

At this time, I’ll turn the call over to Jim.

Jim Reid-Anderson

Thank you, Nancy, and good morning to everyone on the call. Q1 was a very solid quarter for the company. Revenue was up 10% over prior year on a constant currency basis, driven by a 4% increase in constant currency per capita GAAP spending. A 1.5% increase in attendance and a $3 million benefit from settling the third quarter 2011 business interruption insurance claim from Hurricane Irene.

Our trailing 12 month modified EBITDA margin has grown to 37.6% as we continue to effectively manage costs and make our operations even more efficient. In addition to funding a record $33 million of dividends in the quarter, we also used some of our excess cash to repurchase $44 million of our shares. John will share more details about our financial results in a few moments.

While only a few parks were open during the quarter, we continue to prepare for the heart of our 2012 season, aligning all our activities with our long-term strategy and our aspirational goal to generate $500 million of modified EBITDA by 2015. For example, our ticket yields were up 6% constant currency in the quarter, reflecting our ongoing success in increasing pricing and reducing discounts. This quarter you will note several constant currency references. We do that because Mexico represents a much larger percentage of our attendance this quarter than any other.

We continue to further penetrate season pass sales with 2012 units growing in the double-digit, on top of our double-digit growth last year. Deferred revenue increased to $65 million at the end of the first quarter, a gain of 18% compared with the prior year. Season pass sales growth is accelerating which is a very positive indicator for our future. Our Go Big marketing campaign continues to build consumer interest by providing relevant targeted messaging to our key local audiences and showcasing our stars our beautiful parks.

In the area of innovation, our new capital for 2012 is tremendously exciting and receiving huge publicity in our local markets. Our guests are eagerly anticipating new attraction in each park including ride such as X Flight, a ground-breaking wing coaster opening in Chicago, LEX LUTHOR: Drop of Doom, the world’s tallest vertical drop opening in Los Angeles. SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight a launch coaster featuring the tallest inversion in the west opening in San Francisco; Goliath, the world’s largest inverted boomerang coaster opening in new England; and APOCALYPSE, a stand-up coaster that will drop riders 100 feet and hold them through two massive inversion opening in Washington, DC.

Our innovations include shows and family attraction and just as one example, in New Jersey’s Great Adventure Park, we are introducing four new family rides and King Cobra, a [Mongoose] one of a kind water slide. We have lots of shows as well including iLuminate in Georgia and Texas. Now this is an electrifying show straight from TV, and is an incredible sensory experience that features state-of-the-art light-up costumes with stunning visual effect. The show at our Atlanta Park will feature soon on (inaudible).

Our goal is to deliver exciting news in every park; and this is the outcome of our strategic planning process that addresses each park’s individual needs. Day-in and day-out we provide thrills for all ages and there is no better value than a day at Six Flags. I have to say that we’ve also seen tremendous interest in seasonal jobs at Six Flags this year. And we have a record number of our seasonal employees who will return to work for another season. This is a tribute to our ongoing focus on improving our work culture, and it will positively impact both the efficiency of our operations and the quality of a guest interaction. I can say definitively that morale of the company is extremely high. In summary, I feel very good about our 2012 season.

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