BIZMOLOGY — Shamu is jumping for joy. Theme park operator SeaWorld Entertainment filed to go public yesterday. The company hopes to raise at least $100 million through its initial public offering. That figure could rise to as high as $600 million depending on investor interest and the exact number of shares it offers. SeaWorld, which operates a total of 11 properties in five states, will use the bulk of the proceeds to pay down part of its roughly $1.8 billion in debt.
Host to some 24 million visitors every year, SeaWorld is the second-largest theme park operator in the world behind Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. In addition to its three SeaWorld parks, the company’s eight other properties include three Aquatica water parks, the Discovery Cove resort in Orlando, two Busch Gardens parks, and Sesame Place.
In fiscal 2011 the company reported about $1.3 billion in revenue, up from the $1.19 billion SeaWorld claimed the previous year. Theme park admissions account for about two-thirds of the company’s revenue while food, merchandise, and other spending account for the other third.
Admissions were responsible for about $825 million in revenue during fiscal 2011, up from around $730 million in 2010. Food, merchandise, and other spending accounted for a little more than $505 million in revenue during fiscal 2011, up from about $465 million in 2010. The revenue growth was mainly attributable to increased attendance, higher admission prices, an increased focus on food and merchandise promotion, and price hikes in both food and merchandise.
SeaWorld has been leveraging its brands into media, entertainment, and consumer products. The company uses advertising, promotions, retail and corporate partners, digital platforms, public relations, and sales initiatives to drive visitors to its theme parks.
Previously a subsidiary of brewer Anheuser-Busch, SeaWorld was sold to Blackstone for about $2.3 billion in late 2009. Blackstone will get part of the proceeds of the offering, and the private equity firm will still control the majority of SeaWorld’s common shares following the IPO.