SeaWorld Dives as Negative Media Attention Contributes to Sales Miss

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of theme park operator SeaWorld (SEAS) are diving after the company said that negative media attention contributed to lower than expected second quarter attendance, which drove its earnings per share and revenue to miss expectations.

WHAT'S NEW: SeaWorld's Q2 EPS of 43c fell below analysts' consensus view of 59c and its revenue of $405.2M was lower than analysts' consensus $445.29M forecast. The company said it feels that Q2 attendance was impacted by demand pressures related to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California. Still, SeaWorld reported that attendance for the quarter improved when compared to the second quarter of 2013, due in part to a shift in the timing of Easter into Q2 along with favorable weather compared to the same period last year. SeaWorld now projects its FY14 revenue to be down 6%-7% compared to the prior year. On May 14, the company had previously reaffirmed a 2014 revenue outlook of $1.49B-$1.52B. SeaWorld said today that it now expects its FY14 adjusted EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization, to be down 14%-16%. The company announced that it has authorized the repurchase of up to $250M of its common stock beginning on January 1, 2015.

WHAT'S NOTABLE: On January 23, Business Insider reported that a poll by travel intelligence company Skift found that 28% of Americans say they are less likely to visit SeaWorld as a result of the "Blackfish" documentary. Due to the negative attention that "Blackfish" drew, The Wall Street Journal reported on August 1 that Southwest Air (LUV) decided to terminate a 26-year relationship with SeaWorld as the theme park company faced pressure from animal-rights groups over the treatment of captive killer whales. The partnership is set to end by the end of FY14.

PRICE ACTION: During morning trading, shares of SeaWorld plunged $8.37, or nearly 30%, to $19.79.

Reporting by Gina Gioldassis.

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