Sunday, October 30, 2016

Heard On... Six Flags' 3rd Quarter 2016 Conference Call

This past week was Six Flags' third quarter 2016 earnings announcement and conference call.  While there was nothing too exciting this time around, here are some items I thought were worth noting:

• Attendance declined 2% during the 3rd quarter, mostly to bad weather (too hot, too rainy, etc) according to park operators.  However season pass attendance held strong and the declines were largely one-off day visitors.

•  Guest spending per capita were also down 1% in the quarter, due to the decrease in day visitors making a larger portion of the attendance mix pass holders.

•  Revenues for the 3rd quarter were down $18 million, or 3% as well.  That's the result of the 2% decline in attendance, 4% decline in admission revenues and 3% decline from in-park revenues. However, year to date figures still put them on track for a record year overall.

•  Six Flags is still very proud of their being the full to fully roll out virtual reality on coasters, because it has had great feedback and is very cost effective.  They plan to roll out several new virtual reality contents to the equipped rides in the coming year.

•  The park's sale of 2017 season passes has already led to the largest number of passes sold pre-season, making their active pass base up 15% over last September - that's a very large new number of pass holders.  Overall admission prices, both tickets and passes, will go up on average 3-5% in 2017 to further growth.

•  Six Flags is confident in their ability to reach their target goal of $600 million in ebitda next year, so they have assigned a new target of $750 million for 2020.  They continue to see much potential for long term growth in the amusement industry.  To reach the goal, Six Flags will continue to grow admission prices, increase the number of season pass holders, push food revenues higher and work with new international licensing deals.

•  The debut of a Mardi Gras celebration in 2017 at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and Six Flags Mexico is a test to see if the event can hold its own and show potential for growth.  The company is always looking or new events that could ramp up to be compared to Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park.

•  Six Flags' 19th property, a new Hurricane Harbor water park in Mexico, will open in February.  The company believes it will have a large amount of local traffic but also help sell combo passes for nearby Six Flags Mexico.  Also they say to build brand new water park you'd need $100 million but are opening this currently closed park for around $15-18 million.

•  The company's leaders clearly stated that they "really have no plans to do any construction of new parks in the United States," so that seems to remove one company from the Orlando rumor.  They also said it would be "highly unlikely" that they would license their name to another company to build a new Six Flags park in the U.S.