Six Flags posts loss, sees '07 surge

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NEW YORK -- Theme park operator Six Flags Inc. said Friday it expects to post a net loss from continuing operations in 2006, but added early indicators for this year were strong.

The company said on a conference call that, so far, group bookings for the 2007 season were up 34% over last year and it had sold 50% more season passes than it ever had at this point in the season before.

Group bookings and season pass sales account for about half of the attendance at its parks.

The amusement park operator has been reworking its business since a shake-up of its board and top management after investor Daniel Snyder won a long-running battle for control of the company in 2005.

Six Flags has since been focusing on families, boosting promotional partnerships and selling some parks.

The company said on Thursday it had agreed to sell three water parks and four theme parks for $312 million.

Six Flags, which operates about 30 amusement parks in North America, expects total sales in 2006, excluding parks being sold, will be about $940 million, down 2% over the previous year, as attendance dips 13%, but revenue per capita rises 14%.

Excluding parks being sold and management change costs, it expects to report 2006 adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization of $190 million to $195 million, compared with $260 million in 2005.

Six Flags shares were up 40 cents at $6.30 on the NYSE. Its shares have traded in a 52-week range of $11.93 to $4.53.
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