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Time to shut it down Sea World!

SeaWorld Stock Plummets Following “Blackfish” Documentary

The release of “Blackfish” is taking it’s toll on mighty mighty SeaWorld, with backlash following the film putting a serious dent in the pockets of the execs who bankroll the orca park, which is now infamous for the terrible treatment of the animals and trainers who toil there.

According to Financial Post reports:

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. dropped to a record low after reporting earnings that missed analysts’ estimates and saying controversy over the treatment of captive whales in its theme-park shows hurt attendance.

The shares tumbled 32% to US$19.16 at 12:39 p.m. in New York after falling to US$19.30, the lowest since they started trading in April 2013. Before today, SeaWorld had retreated 23% in a year following the release of “Blackfish,” a critical documentary about one of its performing killer whales.

The company acknowledged for the first time that pressure from animal-rights groups is reducing attendance, said Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR & Co., calling second-quarter results “surprisingly weak.” The theme-park operator had tried to head off a proposed ban on keeping orcas in captivity in California with a lobbying campaign that raised doubts about claims that the animals are harmed in its parks.

“Attendance in the quarter was impacted by demand pressures related to recent media attention surrounding proposed legislation in the state of California,” Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld said today in a statement.

SeaWorld expects revenue to decline as much 7% in 2014. Sales fell 1.5% to US$405.2 million last quarter, the company said, missing the US$445.2 million average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Earnings of 43 cents a share also trailed the average prediction of 58 cents.

Before the controversy over “Blackfish,” SeaWorld sold shares at US$27 each in its April 2013 IPO. Blackstone Group LP, which controlled the theme-park operator, chose an initial public offering for SeaWorld, snubbing takeover bids from Apollo Global Management LLC and Onex Corp., because the firm expected an IPO to yield better returns over time than a sale, a person familiar with the matter said last year.

Blackstone, which had owned all of SeaWorld’s equity, has since cut its stake to 22%, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

In response to the slowdown, the company has hired an adviser to identify ways to cut costs this year and next, SeaWorld Chief Executive Officer James Atchison said on a conference call today. The savings will be used to reinvest in new attractions and to increase stock buybacks.

Amid lobbying by SeaWorld, a California legislative panel in April put off for at least a year a proposed measure that would ban whale breeding and the use of the animals for entertainment.

We’re glad to hear there is legislation in the works — sucks that the lobbyists were able to keep the restrictions from going through though.

Do you think it’s right to keep orcas in captivity and force them to perform for the public?

Watch the “Blackfish” trailer below and tell us if you would still go to SeaWorld:



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