Six Flags reports strong fourth-quarter profits

Posted Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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GRAND PRAIRIE -- Citing strong attendance growth at its theme parks in 2012 and a hefty tax benefit, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. today reported strong earnings for the fourth quarter.

The Grand Prairie-based company posted a $143.8 million profit in the quarter, or $2.69 a share, compared to a $102 million loss, or $1.86 a share, the previous year, thanks to a $180.6 million income tax benefit. Revenue was up 5 percent to $143.9 million. Without the benefit, Six Flags would have lost $37.4 million, the company reported.

In 2012, the company said its profit totaled $354 million, or $6.38 a share, compared to a loss of $22.6 million, or 41 cents a share, in 2011. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2010.

Shares of Six Flags (ticker: SIX) were up about 5 percent, or $3.20, at $66.93 a share mid-morning on the New York Stock Exchange.

Jim Reid-Anderson, Six Flags chairman and CEO, told Wall Street analysts that the company has again recorded all-time guest satisfaction and safety ratings, and set another record for cash earnings before interest, taxes and depreciation. He said that reached $383 million, an 11 percent increase over 2011. The figure includes gains made when the company in September sold its interests in dick clark productions.

Annual attendance grew 6 percent to 25.7 million, the company said, thanks to a greater number of season pass sales. The company has been pushing its season pass program because those guests tend to spend more money in the parks over the course of the year.

Reid-Anderson said high attendance at the park's Fright Fest and Holiday In The Park events gave the company "a fantastic finish" to 2012. Fourth-quarter attendance was 3.7 million.

"Excellent execution of our strategy has been a key factor in driving our third successive year of record performance," Reid-Anderson said. "Guests recognize that we are providing innovative rides and attractions, superb service, and great value for their money. The trends are very encouraging."

In Arlington this year, Six Flags Over Texas will debut the Texas SkyScreamer, the world's tallest swing ride at 400 feet above ground. It is the park's first new ride since 2008 and is expected to become its new icon. The park is also introducing a dining pass program to its season pass holders, which provide a lunch and a dinner when they visit the park.

And at Hurricane Harbor, two new slides will open this summer, the Typhoon Twister and the Tsunami Surge.

"We are extremely excited about the upcoming seasons at Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor," said Steve Martindale, park president. "Our parks are known throughout the state as the premier locations for family fun."

Six Flags Over Texas opens on March 2 and will be open weekends through May 12, plus daily for spring break, March 9-17 and March 22-24. Six Flags Hurricane Harbor opens on May 11 for weekends and will begin daily operation on May 31.

Six Flags operates 18 parks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Sandra Baker, (817) 390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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