Six Flags, Comcast's Universal Parks See Off-Season Surge

(Bloomberg) -- More people are streaming into theme parks during what was long considered the off-season, bolstering results at Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Comcast Corp.’s Universal resorts.

Six Flags attendance surged 27 percent last quarter, helping send the shares on their biggest rally in more than three years. The debut of Hurricane Harbor Mexico and the shift of its Six Flags Magic Mountain park to a 365-day schedule both contributed to the gains.

A relatively early Easter holiday also helped attract crowds.

“We are firing on all cylinders,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Reid-Anderson said in a statement. “We are poised to deliver another record year.”

New water parks, higher prices and an expansion into China are bringing a wave of optimism to the industry. At Comcast, which posted its latest results this morning, theme-park revenue rose 15 percent to $1.3 billion last quarter. Volcano Bay in Orlando, Florida; Minion Park in Japan; and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Los Angeles all helped fuel the growth.

Amusements parks also are turning to food festivals and updated loyalty programs to drive attendance -- and spending. Guest spending grew 4 percent at Six Flags last quarter to $46.07 apiece. The timing of Easter weekend, which straddled the end of the first quarter, also helped results, Janney Montgomery Scott LLC analyst Tyler Batory said in a note.

Six Flags, based in Grand Prairie, Texas, gained as much as 13 percent to $66.82 on Wednesday, the biggest intraday increase since October 2014. Before the rally, the stock had been down 11 percent this year. Comcast climbed as much as 4.3 percent to $34.78.

In the long run, China may help keep the industry on the growth track. Six Flags announced plans on Wednesday to build three new locations in the country: a theme park, a water park, and an adventure park. The company is working with developer Riverside Investment Group Co. to open the attractions in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province, starting in 2021.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.