The new season is just getting started at many of the Six Flags
The regional operator is restructuring its leveraged ways, giving itself a little more near-term breathing room to see its turnaround strategy through. Six Flags is initiating a $300 million revolving credit line that will mature in March 2013, and taking out an $800 million term loan due April 2015.
The moves will help eliminate a revolving credit line and a multicurrency facility that were set to expire next summer, as well as a term loan that would have matured in 2009. The new extended maturities will come in handy.
Until last summer, Six Flags had marketed its parks as havens for thrill-seeking teens. The gargantuan coasters are still there, but a new management team took over last year with the colossal task of making its parks more appealing to young families. Obviously, there is more money to be made in catering to free-spending grown-ups with children than packs of thrifty teens.
As one might expect, last year's results proved mixed. Spending per capita soared, yet attendance also fell sharply. CEO Mark Shapiro isn't giving up the fight. This year brings new licensed character attractions like The Wiggles and Thomas the Tank Engine, as well as corporate sponsors like Home Depot
Creditors understand as much, but it's still good to see Six Flags give itself a longer leash today.
Debt is a major part of the Six Flags story. The company began the year with $2.2 billion in total debt. Paying interest of roughly $200 million a year on that debt has been enough to turn an operating profit into a net loss during every single year in this millennium. A $312 million deal to sell off some of its smaller parks was completed in January. That will help a little, though obviously the company would rather have families take to the new and improved Six Flags, spending enough to create more than a token operating profit.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz enjoys taking his family on coaster treks over the summer. He did his part by hitting Six Flags Great Adventure and Six Flags Great Escape last year. He does own shares in Disney and units in Cedar Fair. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.