Cedar Fair (NYSE:FUN) reported first-quarter financial results on May 8. The master limited partnership's early season results and a slate of new attractions have management excited about the year ahead.

Cedar Fair results: The raw numbers

Metric

Q1 2019

Q1 2018

Year-Over-Year Change

Net revenue

$67 million

$55 million

22%

Net loss

($84 million)

($83 million)

N/A

Net loss per unit

($1.49)

($1.49)

N/A

Data source: Cedar Fair Q1 2019 earnings press release.

What happened with Cedar Fair this quarter?

There were nine additional operating days in the quarter compared to the first quarter of 2018. The corresponding increases in attendance and guest spending drove revenue 22% higher to $67 million.

Still, Cedar Fair typically operates at a loss in the first quarter, since most of its parks are closed and it generates less than 5% of its revenue during this time. Operating loss came in at $85 million, compared to $76 million in the year-ago period. Operating expenses rose by $14 million, mainly due to the greater number of operating days in the quarter compared to the prior-year period.

Meanwhile, adjusted EBITDA -- which helps to better highlight Cedar Fair's park-level operating results since it excludes the impact of foreign exchange, interest rate swaps, debt extinguishment, stock-based compensation, and certain other charges -- went up 4% to $68 million.

Four young people on a roller coaster

Cedar Fair expects strong attendance at its amusement parks in 2019. Image source: Getty Images.

Looking forward

CEO Richard Zimmerman said Cedar Fair's results bode well for the rest of the year.

"We are pleased with the start to the year and our early season trends through the first four months of the season, which for the most part normalize for the spring break calendar shift associated with a later Easter holiday," Zimmerman said in a press release. "Importantly, deferred revenues through the first four months of the year are up 12%, or more than $20 million year-over-year, on the sale of advance purchase commitments for 2019, including sales of season passes and our all-season dining and beverage products."

In the conference call with analysts, Zimmerman said results so far this year "place us solidly on track to deliver our 10th consecutive year of record-setting revenues."

Looking further ahead, Zimmerman said that Cedar Fair is on track to achieve its long-term adjusted EBITDA goal of $575 million by 2023. The company has a host of new rides and attractions coming on line in the months ahead, as well as a strong pipeline of development projects -- all of which should help to fuel growth.

"With advanced purchases up more than 10% compared to this time last year, we expect 2019 to be another outstanding year," Zimmerman noted during a conference call with analysts. "We are executing on our long-term strategy and have set in motion a host of key initiatives aimed at reaching our long-term growth objectives."