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Negative Publicity, Competition Hit SeaWorld Earnings

Photo: Michael Lowin, Wikimedia Commons.
Photo: Michael Lowin, Wikimedia Commons.

SeaWorld's latest earnings are disappointing but no indication of its long-term outlook.

That's according to Duncan Dickson of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida.

He says the company is struggling more now than after trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed in 2010, but that's not entirely because of negative publicity like from the film, "Blackfish."

"It's much ado about nothing," says Dickson.

"Yes, the earnings predictions were down. But they still showed a dollar earnings per share. They still made a profit. They had strong attendance numbers."

Dickson says at the time of Brancheau's death SeaWorld was part of the investment firm Blackstone. Now it's an independent company.

"They're going through those pains of being an independent company without all the other parts to help support them," says Dickson.

SeaWorld this week reported an eight percent revenue decline to $496 million. The company blamed a five percent drop in attendance and also negative publicity especially in California, where lawmakers had considered banning captive whales.

Dickson says in Orlando SeaWorld faces increased competition from theme parks like Universal, which just opened a new Harry Potter attraction.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.