Cedar Fair reports 2020 second-quarter results

Initial attendance upon the reopening of its parks has been below original expectations


Wednesday, 05 August 2020


Cedar Fair Press Release

SANDUSKY, Ohio--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, today announced results for its second quarter ended June 28, 2020, and provided an update on strategic actions being taken that are positioning the Company to emerge stronger from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am proud and inspired by the way our team has risen to the challenge of this season and confident we will emerge on the other side better positioned for future success,” said Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard A. Zimmerman. “In very uncertain market conditions, we are pleased to have opened to date 7 of our 13 properties, all following the recommended protocols designed to provide our guests and associates with the safest entertainment environment possible. Upon reopening these parks, we have managed to generate modest positive cash flow by adjusting operating calendars to better meet demand, consolidating seasonal labor hours into fewer operating days, implementing effective cost saving measures, and creatively generating incremental revenues within our parks and adjacent facilities. Where possible, we will continue to actively work with authorities in an attempt to get additional parks open yet this season, while at the same time building operating plans and programming for the 2021 season that will meet evolving consumer tastes and needs," said Zimmerman.

Second-Quarter Results

As previously announced, the Company suspended operations of its parks beginning on March 14, 2020, in response to the spread of COVID-19 and local government mandates, which had a significant impact on the Company’s financial performance. The Company resumed partial operations at many of its parks on a staggered basis beginning late in the second quarter, in accordance with local and state guidelines.

Due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Company’s operations, results for the second-quarter ended June 28, 2020, include the partial operation of only three parks – Worlds of Fun, Schlitterbahn Waterpark & Resort New Braunfels and Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston – and are not directly comparable to results for the 2019 second quarter ended June 30, 2019, which included the full operation of the legacy Cedar Fair parks and excluded the two Schlitterbahn water parks acquired on July 1, 2019. Due to park closures in mid-March, the 2020 second quarter had a total of 39 operating days, compared to 726 operating days in the prior-year period and 827 operating days originally planned for the quarter.

Net revenues for the second quarter ended June 28, 2020, were $7 million versus $436 million for the second quarter of 2019. The decrease in net revenues was the direct result of an 8 million-visit decrease in attendance and a $44 million decrease in out-of-park revenues, both shortfalls due to COVID-19-related park closures in the current period.

Fewer operating days, combined with cost-saving measures implemented in response to suspended park operations in the second quarter, led to a decrease in operating costs and expenses in the period. For the second quarter, operating costs and expenses totaled $93 million compared with $277 million for the second quarter of 2019. Depreciation and amortization expense in the quarter was $55 million versus $56 million for the 2019 second quarter.

After the items noted above, the operating loss for the second quarter totaled $142 million, compared with operating income of $102 million in the second quarter of 2019. The operating loss was the result of the 98% decline in net revenues, offset by a $185 million decrease in operating costs and expenses compared with the second quarter of 2019.

Interest expense for the second quarter was $37 million, up from $23 million in the second quarter of 2019 due to incremental interest incurred on the Company’s 2025 senior notes issued in April 2020 and the 2029 senior notes issued in June 2019, offset somewhat by less interest incurred on term debt and revolver borrowings. The net effect of the Company’s swaps resulted in a $2 million charge to earnings during the second quarter of 2020, compared with an $11 million charge to earnings in the same period last year. The difference reflects the change in fair market value movements in the Company’s swap portfolio. During the second quarter of 2020, the Company also recognized a $13 million net benefit to earnings for foreign currency gains and losses related to the U.S.-dollar denominated Canadian notes, compared with a $9 million net benefit to earnings for the second quarter of 2019.

During the second quarter of 2020, a benefit for taxes of $37 million was recorded to account for publicly traded partnership taxes and federal, state, local and foreign income taxes compared to a tax provision of $15 million in the second quarter of 2019. The benefit for taxes was attributable to an increase in pretax loss, as well as expected benefits from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

After the items above, the Company reported a net loss of $133 million, or $2.35 per diluted LP unit, in the 2020 second quarter. This compares with net income of $63 million, or $1.11 per diluted LP unit, for the 2019 second quarter. The 2020 second quarter produced an Adjusted EBITDA loss of $85 million compared with Adjusted EBITDA of $163 million for the same quarter in 2019. The net loss and the Adjusted EBITDA loss in the second quarter are attributable to a majority of the Company’s parks being closed for the entire period, offset in part by effective cost management. See the attached table for a reconciliation of the net loss to the Adjusted EBITDA loss.

Liquidity and Balance Sheet Update

As of June 28, 2020, the Company had cash on hand of $301 million and $360 million available under its revolving credit facility, net of $15 million of letters of credit, or total liquidity of $661 million. Based on the recently updated park operating calendars and the slate of parks that are currently open, the Company estimates that its average cash burn rate(1) through the end of 2020 will be $30-40 million per month.

Commenting on liquidity, Zimmerman said, “While our balance sheet remains solid and we are confident in our overall liquidity position, given the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the unknown nature of the longer-term impact on operating results, we remain focused on managing our cash burn rate and on maximizing liquidity even as we have brought parks back online.”

Zimmerman added that the resiliency and flexibility of Cedar Fair’s business model is extremely helpful in a disrupted marketplace. As an example, he noted Knott’s Berry Farm, which has yet to fully reopen, recently announced the introduction of the Taste of Calico, a new limited-time, special outdoor food and merchandise event that sold out in days. “New programming like this reflects our ability to adapt to a changing market, giving us a chance to reinforce our brand positioning and stay connected with our guests,” said Zimmerman. “We will continue to evaluate other opportunities to introduce similar experiences at other parks in our portfolio going forward.”

The Company anticipates it will have sufficient liquidity to meet its cash obligations through the end of 2021, even if parks currently open are forced to close. "Regardless of the park operating model, we will continue to explore ways to enhance our liquidity position and reduce cash outflows," said Zimmerman.

Outlook

The Company noted that initial attendance upon the reopening of its parks has been below original expectations, likely reflecting the public’s continued concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic. The Company also noted the timing of park openings from mid-June through mid-July coincided with growing concerns about recent spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations across a wide swath of the country.

"Based on the soft demand trends, we have removed our reservation system and adjusted park calendars and operating models to better align with attendance levels, while remaining focused on providing guests with the best possible experience when visiting our parks,” said Zimmerman. “Health concerns in the marketplace around the pandemic could present a headwind for attendance until consumer confidence improves. Until such time, we are staying engaged with our customers while offering guests the best possible entertainment experience within the required safety protocols. Additionally, the learnings and experience from current park operations are invaluable to our team as we reassess operating plans and strategies for the 2021 season and beyond.”

Zimmerman added that the Company remains committed to emerging stronger from the pandemic by strengthening the brand reputation of its parks with stakeholders, positioning its parks to remain the top choice for safe, family entertainment in the new reality, and maintaining the strong underlying economics of its business model.

The Company is accelerating its strategies to accomplish these goals, including:

  • Staying closely engaged with guests and associates, even while park operations are currently disrupted.
  • Embracing the experiences and learnings from this season to inform investment decisions, operating strategies and park programming going forward.
  • Supporting the portfolio through a refreshed marketing approach, with an increased focus on marketing investment effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Evaluating, testing and improving operating and safety protocols, with an increased focus on scalable, technology-based initiatives.
  • Maintaining a disciplined approach around cash burn, while also identifying and driving incremental system-wide operating efficiencies.
  • Investing in new capabilities to capitalize on emerging shifts in consumer behavior and preferences.

Zimmerman concluded by noting that due to the high degree of uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, the Company is currently not in a position to reinstate or provide additional color around near or long-term guidance.

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