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Six Flags quarterly loss gets wider

March 16, 2007|From Bloomberg News

Theme park operator Six Flags Inc. on Thursday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss after writing down the value of seven locations it planned to sell.

The loss was $189.7 million, or $2.07 a share, compared with $139 million, or $1.55, a year earlier, the New York-based company said. Sales were little changed at $104.3 million.

Six Flags reduced the value of the parks it had agreed to sell for $312 million to PARC Management, a closely held company run by former amusement park executives. The sale, agreed to in January, is part of a strategy to reduce debt and increase attendance with more advertising for the 21 remaining locations.

"There's no question 2006 should be characterized as a transition year," Chief Financial Officer Jeff Speed said.

Excluding the seven parks, the loss from continuing operations narrowed to $100.5 million, or $1.12 a share, from $106.6 million, or $1.20, a year earlier. The sites being sold -- in Buffalo, N.Y.; Concord, Calif.; Denver; Houston; Seattle; and two in Oklahoma City -- attracted 3.6 million customers in 2006. The company also operates Magic Mountain in Valencia.

Six Flags' fourth-quarter loss was estimated at $1.24 a share, the average projection of three analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales were estimated at $108.9 million.

Chief Executive Mark Shapiro said Thursday that season- pass sales were up 30% to 40% this year. He said the company's marketing expenses would increase 24% this year to $130 million.

In the fourth quarter, attendance fell 16%, while revenue per customer rose 19%. Most of the company's parks are closed in the winter season.

The company has revamped operations since Chairman Daniel Snyder took over in 2005. He has tried to improve the parks' reputation among families that had been scared off by unruly teenagers. He's also emphasizing sales of season passes, which account for half of attendance.

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