It's forgivable to have slept through this morning's Six Flags
The first three months are historically forgettable. Most of the regional amusement park operators' attractions are closed. A chunky loss is a given. The chain generates roughly 6% of the more than $1 billion it will ultimately generate in revenue this year.
However, Six Flags has become fiscally relevant since emerging from bankruptcy last year. The first quarter provides a glimpse into trends that may play out over the course of the year when the stakes -- and turnstile clicks -- are higher.
Six Flags' financials were better than expected, but nothing to tweet home about. Revenue climbed 7% to $61 million. The thrill specialist's deficit of $2.94 a share may seem steep, but it's far less than the $3.54 a share that analysts were targeting.
Fret not, shareholders. This is the new and balance-sheet-improved Six Flags on display. It should be able to more than overcome the first quarter's loss during the next two seasonally potent quarters.
There are also some meaty trends here. It's not as if the few Southern parks that were open during the first three months of 2011 were a lot more crowded this year. Attendance inched a mere 1% higher. It was an 11% pop in admissions and a 10% gain from in-park sales that boosted Six Flags' top-line results.
We'll see if that holds up as the rest of the parks open up during the current quarter.
These are interesting times for the park operators. Rival Cedar Fair
Things are also heating up on the larger theme park stage. Disney
Still sleeping? Wake up. Regional parks are just getting started in what promises to be a bumpy season where discretionary income levels, new thrill rides, and gas prices dictate where the winners are queued up.
Would you buy into the amusement park industry ahead of the 2011 season? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves hitting amusement parks with his family over the summer. His plans are to hit Six Flags Great America, Cedar Point, and Kennywood next month. He does own shares in Disney. 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.