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. on Wednesday 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 with a $102 million loss, or $1.86 a share, the previous year, thanks to a $180.6 million tax benefit, the company said. Revenue was up 5 percent in the quarter to $143.9 million. Without that 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 with a loss of $22.6 million, or 41 cents a share, in 2011. The company emerged from bankruptcy protection in 2010. Six Flags operates 18 parks in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Shares of Six Flags (ticker: SIX) closed up 5 percent, or $3.17 a share, at $66.90.

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 sold its interests in dick clark productions in September.

Annual attendance grew 6 percent to 25.7 million, driven by increased sales of its season pass, the company said. Reid-Anderson said high attendance during Fright Fest and Holiday in the Park gave the company "a fantastic finish" to 2012. Fourth-quarter attendance was 3.7 million.

In Arlington this season, 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.

Steve Martindale, park president, said passersby should start seeing the ride's steel structure going up in about a month. Crews are still working on the foundation, which requires piers to go 70 feet deep, he said. "It's pretty precise work," Martindale said.

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. The park will have eight new food and retail projects, a new candy store featuring fudge and caramel apples made on site, updated food menus and three new shows, among other things, Martindale said.

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," Martindale said. "We've got lots of projects going on."

Six Flags Over Texas opens on March 2, or Texas Independence Day. Tickets for the weekend will be $18.36, representing the year Texas broke away from Mexico.

The park 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.

Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727

Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST

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