SeaWorld Shares Plummet as Profit Forecast Trails Estimates

  • Projection for 2016 overshadows narrower-than-expected loss
  • Theme-park operator adjusting to animal-friendly policies

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. fell as much as 10 percent after forecasting profit for the year that trailed analysts’ estimates.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization will reach $335 million to $365 million in 2016 on an adjusted basis, the theme-park operator said Thursday in a statement. Analysts were projecting $378.9 million, the average of 10 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

SeaWorld, based in Orlando, Florida, is adapting after bowing to pressure from animal-rights activists by pledging to stop breeding killer whales and to phase out performances by the sea creatures. The theme park has struggled with declining attendance and share performance since the 2013 release of “Blackfish.”

The shares dropped 8.2 percent to $17.87 at 9:35 a.m. in New York. They fell as low as $17.51 earlier.

The forecast overshadowed a first-quarter loss that was narrower than analysts’ estimates. Leaving out some items, the loss was 56 cents a share, compared with the average projection of 71 cents. Sales rose 2.6 percent to $220.2 million, compared with the $217.7 million average estimate.