Saturday, February 20, 2016

Heard On... Cedar Fair 2015 Full Year Results Call

This past week Cedar Fair made its formal announcements of earnings for the 4th quarter of 2015, along with the entire year.  2015 marked the 6th consecutive year of record results - here's some items I found interesting on the investor conference call to cover the news.

• Cedar Fair posted record attendance (24.4 million, up 1.1 million), guest spending ($46.20), out-of-park revenues (up $11 million to $138 million), overall net revenues (up 7% to $1.24 billion) and EBITDA (up 7% to $459 million) in 2015.

• The company saw increased revenues at all its properties except for one, which remained unnamed, and that one property just came off of 7 years of increasing revenues.

• Knott's Berry Farm and its Soak City water park combined had over 5 million guests, and was an all-time record for Knott's.  The park is performing very strongly under the string of image-changing capital projects that have continued to rebrand the property and celebrate its history.

• Carowinds also had a very strong year on the debut of big changes that included Fury 325, surpassing 2 million visitors for the first time.  The park has also been rebranded in the local marketplace and the company will "aggressively invest" in the park moving forward.

• The recently announced WinterFest at California's Great America is a test run for the event; once the park learns from it at the end of this year they plan to bring it to additional parks in 2017.  They won't say which parks yet, but pointed out that they're focused on parks in slightly warmer climates for now.

• Cedar Point was another big performed in 2015, with the Hotel Breakers exceeding the company's estimates - leading to overall increases at the park.  The hotel work was so well received the company will use what it learned from it when planning additional resorts at other parks with available land.  And speaking of, it sounds like they may have news for us on that front as soon as the next conference call.

• FunPix, the company's new photo souvenir system, is tied into new apps that are debuting in season at the 5 largest parks.  It just started at Knott's and has had a great response so far.

• To date season pass sales and the amount they are being sold for are both up over 2015 numbers.  The season pass base was a huge portion of the company's attendance in 2015 and they plan to continue to grow it.

• Total capital expenditures in 2015 were $175 million, larger than any year I can remember for Cedar Fair.  The next two years should come in around $150 million each, and the company is no longer giving an estimate of spending going forward due to many variables - one of which are for large growth opportunities that also cost more (like a new hotel).  Long ago the company stated they spend about 9% of revenues on capital expansions on a consistent basis each year.