If you thought that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder was quick with the hook on his football team's head coaches, you should see him invest. Making the Steve Spurrier experiment seem like a Lombardi lifespan, Snyder is pulling out of regional park operator Six Flags
As one would expect, Snyder wasn't quiet about his early exit. In the "Dear John" letter that he scribed in his SEC 13D filing, he took the company to task for not being responsive to his suggestions, while posting deteriorating financials since both parties met in September.
While some of his requests -- like suggesting that he and a pair of other significant shareholders be named to the struggling company's board of directors -- may have appeared to be strong-armed tactics, the fact that his cries fell mostly on deaf ears is troubling.
This is the offseason. Six Flags hasn't been impressing many in recent years with the status quo. Pissing off one of its largest investors at a time when its dance card was covered in cobwebs was not a bright move.
The company has never been the well-oiled regional operating machine that Cedar Fair
Six Flags: You've got problems, and even if granting too much attention to one disgruntled investor with a history of impatience may seem to go against the long-term philosophy of building shareholder value, you've failed miserably on that front, anyway. You owe it to your more seasoned investors -- like Gates -- to listen. As a bonus, a lot of what Snyder was preaching made perfect sense in revitalizing the company.
Snyder: You're not off the hook, either, my friend. If you bought into the company because you saw the untapped potential at Six Flags, the current board's closed-minded ways shouldn't have been a deterrent. If anything, it should have confirmed your convictions. Instead of walking away, you should have simply held your stake, nibbled while you quibbled, and eventually acquired the company in its entirety. Vindication never comes cheap, but it ultimately provides a delicious return.
Thirty million annual parkgoers can't be wrong, but they can be wronged. It's a pity that pride got in the way of logic hand-dipped in petulance.
For more on the battle to fly the Six Flags higher, do check out:
I'll be back later in the week with some more thoughts on how to teach Six Flags to fly.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz did manage to go on some fascinating coasters this past summer -- including Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Ohio and X at Six Flags Magic Mountain in California. He owns units in Cedar Fair and shares in Disney. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.
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