SANDUSKY, Ohio - The amusement and water park company Cedar Fair Entertainment Wednesday reported record financial results for the year ended December 31, 2017.
"We are pleased to report a record fourth quarter performance as our parks had a strong finish to 2017," said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair's president and chief executive officer. "Guests of all ages responded well to our new WinterFest celebrations and our expanded Haunt events were more popular than ever. Although we faced challenges from the extreme weather patterns earlier in the year, we remained focused on the guest experience and the long-term success of the business. This focus has enabled us to generate solid increases across all of our advance purchase channels for 2018, giving us confidence that the momentum we generated at the end of 2017 will continue."
Full year revenues increased 3 percent from 2016 and net income was up $38 million or $3.79 per diluted limited partner unit.
Driving the results was an increase in attendance of 2 percent to a record 225.7 million guests in 2017, primarily due to expanded special events in the fourth quarter which resulted in a 19 percent increase in fourth-quarter net revenues. Sales from advance purchase commitments, including season passes, through the end of January 2018 were up 10 percent from the same time last year.
Cedar Fair Entertainment pointed to its investments in new rides, including Mystic Timbers, a world-class wooden roller coaster at Kings Island, and the expansion of its two separately-gated water parks at Knott’s Berry Farm and Cedar Park. The company also introduced and expanded its immersive special events, such as a month-long celebration at Canada's Wonderland in honor of that country's 150th anniversary, the expansion of the company's daytime Halloween events across all of its parks and the introduction of three new WinterFest celebrations in November and December.
Average in-park guest per capita spending improved as a result of increases in both pure in-park spending and non-season pass admissions per capita spending. The food and beverage category led the increase in pure in-park spending, driven by the continued growth of the all-season dining and beverage programs.
Revenues from the company's resort accommodations, which is the primary source for out-of-park revenues, were comparable with last year. The decrease in out-of-park revenues was the result of prior-year revenues received from a Super Bowl 50 special event and the timing of other miscellaneous revenues.
For full year 2017, Cedar Fair generated record net revenues of $1.32 billion and net income of $215 million, or $3.79 per diluted LP unit, compared with net revenues of $1.29 billion and net income of $178 million, or $3.14 per diluted LP unit, in 2016.
Operating costs and expenses for 2017 totaled $863 million, up $35 million, or 4 percent, from the prior year. The increase was primarily attributable to an increase in labor costs due to higher market/minimum wage rates, higher operating costs and supplies related to new multi-week special events, an expanded multi-year marketing initiative to more aggressively market certain parks as regional destinations, and a non-recurring legal settlement.
Looking ahead to 2018 Zimmerman said, "Our new rides and attractions announced for our parks in 2018 have generated great excitement and anticipation as we continue to enhance the guest experience. Highlights of our robust capital plan include Steel Vengeance, a record-breaking hyper-hybrid coaster at Cedar Point, and Hang Time, the West Coast's first dive coaster, at Knott's Berry Farm, along with the expansion of Carowinds' PEANUTS-themed children's area with Camp Snoopy. Our multi-week special events, including the introduction of WinterFest at Kings Dominion and the continued benefits of unique, immersive events introduced in 2017, will also be key drivers of our success in 2018 and beyond."
Zimmerman also noted that the company continues to advance important long-term initiatives that will position it to grow well into the future. In 2017, Cedar Fair launched a new multi-year marketing campaign to position the company’s flagship park, Cedar Point, as a true regional resort destination.
Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), is of the largest regional amusement resort operators in the world, is a publicly traded partnership based in Sandusky, Ohio. The company owns and operated 11 amusement parks, along with two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. It also operates an additional theme park under a management contract. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario.
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