ORLANDO, Fla. – Despite spending millions in its second quarter to improve its theme parks’ reputation, SeaWorld Entertainment on Thursday reported an 84 percent drop in net income amid falling attendance.
SeaWorld’s selling, general and administrative expenses spiked largely because of a new marketing campaign to convince the public its killer whales are thriving. SeaWorld spent $73.3 million on those costs, compared with $58.6 million the previous year.
Still, SeaWorld’s net income declined to $5.8 million from $37.4 million the previous year.
Attendance decreased 1.6 percent to 6.5 million visitors. Revenue dropped to $391.6 million from $405.2 million.
The company cited the timing of the Easter holiday, heavy rain in Texas, and “brand challenges” stemming from controversy over its orcas. That controversy had an effect in California, SeaWorld said. The company noted that attendance increased at its Florida parks, which include its namesake Orlando park, Aquatica, Discovery Cove and Busch Gardens in Tampa.
The company missed analysts’ expectations in its earnings report. It reported earnings per share of 22 cents; analysts had expected 40.
“On the reputation side, early feedback on our campaign has been positive, however, we recognize that fully resolving our brand challenges in California will require sustained focus and commitment to correct misinformation,” Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said in a press release.
The company discussed its earnings with analysts in a call that followed the release.