The rumor mill is churning on Tuesday morning and the target today is entertainment company SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS) . The theme park operator is said to have hired Evercore partners as a second advisor to work alongside its other financial adviser JPMorgan, DealReporter noted, citing sources.
Shares are up over 1% at the market open.
SeaWorld stock spiked on Monday as a result of the report. The stock jumped by more than 6%, closing at $15.38. SeaWorld's stock price has tumbled over the years. When the company went public in 2013 its IPO price was $27.
The decision to hire Evercore was said to be the result of increased activist pressure. SeaWorld's reputation as a wholesome family amusement park was tarnished in recent years due to allegations the company mistreats the animals in its care.
Animal activists and some of the general public have been calling for SeaWorld to change its business model and move away from using performing marine mammals as its main draw.
SeaWorld is said to be looking for "fresh perspective" on how to handle their weak operational performance, DealReporter added.
Following the 2013 documentary "Blackfish" SeaWorld saw a decline in attendance as consumers began to question the ethics of marine mammal captivity, with particular emphasis on SeaWorld's main attraction, performing killer whales.
The documentary alleges that prolonged captivity for one of the ocean's top predators causes unnatural behavior, health issues, extreme stress, and aggression. The film highlights the 2010 death of veteran SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau. The trainer was killed by Tilikum, a 12,000 pound bull orca that was wild caught in the 1980s and involved in the deaths of two other people. Tilikum died earlier this year.
SeaWorld recently announced the death of its three month old baby orca Kyara at its Texas park. Marine scientists say that captivity causes a shortened lifespan for an animal that in the wild can live between 50 and 100 years.
Another issue plaguing SeaWorld is the increase in competition, particularly in the Orlando area. Universal (CMCSA) and Walt Disney World (DIS) have each added to or are continuing to add new attractions to their parks. The highly anticipated Star Wars land coming to Disney in 2019 could be a major thorn in SeaWorld's side.
TheStreet contacted SeaWorld for comment but has not received a response.
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