Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 2nd Quarter 2016 Conference Call

Cedar Fair has reported their 2nd quarter and 1st half of 2016 financial results, showing that the company is on track for another record year.  As expected there was also a conference call today to discuss the results, and here are some notes from the call:

• For the 2nd quarter revenues were up 3% or $11 million, with a $2 million increase of out of park revenues, a 2% increase in attendance, and a 1% increase in per-capita spending.  The first six months of the year saw a 5% or $22 million increase in revenues, with attendance up 4% to 9 million.  EBITDA for the first half of the year was up a healthy 10%.

• The company also said that through the end of July the financials are still up, though bad weather did make a negative impact.  However they do not see this as a trend and just an isolated period due to excessive heat and rainy periods.

• For the first half of the year out of park revenues are up 7% or $3 million to $54 million - the increase in these mostly-hotel generated revenues is something to take note of.  I would expect with the success they've seen in this area we will see more resort plans at the parks sooner than later.

• This year Halloween Haunt will feature new Skeleton Key rooms that are for Fright Lane customers, new mazes and maze themes, new parades and family friendly daytime fun, along with the 50th anniversary of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

• There will also be an experiment at several parks for Haunt that utilizes virtual reality technology.  No additional details on exactly how it will be used were released.

 • It sounds like the future of virtual reality on rides and at Haunt will not be a base-line benefit, but something that will be an upcharge.  The company is mindful of having virtual reality attractions on rides that do not give a "disservice" who want to ride without it.

• WinterFest at California's Great America will debut this year as planned, and they're already planning to bring it to three more parks in 2017, ones with "favorable weather" and a strong season pass base.  They parks weren't listed, but Carowinds is a natural fit based on weather, but I wonder what the other 2 will be?  They also estimated that in the future more than half of their parks will hold the WinterFest event.

• Development of the chain's 1,300 acres of available land is also a growing focus - the first example is the Sports Park by Cedar Point which will be done by the end of the year.  Also at Cedar Point the company will expand "amenities and entertainment" on the mile long beach.  The length of stay per guest at Cedar Point is increasing due to the resorts, and it sounds like an announcement in that regard will come soon.

• Carowinds has 100 acres still to be developed and both a Sports Park and resort development were specifically mentioned for the park.  There are other projects in a due diligence stage and by the end of the year they hope to be able to reveal some of them during an earnings call, so stay tuned!