Once the majority owner of stock in SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., the investment firm Blackstone Group is continuing to sell of its stock in the company at a notably rapid rate. So says the Orlando Sentinel:
After shedding another 19 million shares last week - 1.75 million of which were bought back by SeaWorld - Blackstone's stake in the company is now down to about 22.5 percent. Blackstone's latest sell-off, its second since taking SeaWorld public last spring, followed a quarter in which attendance at SeaWorld-owned theme parks fell 13 percent, though most of the decline was due to one-time factors such as a later Easter holiday and fewer operating days.
The company now owns about 20 million shares in SeaWorld. Blackstone took the company public about one year ago, in April 2013. As The Dodo reported in January, Blackstone isn't the only company shedding stock in SeaWorld in the wake of the CNN documentary "Blackfish":
Other major shareholders are jumping ship, too: In December, Delaware L.P., sold off 18,000,000 of its shares. The company also started offering tickets through Groupon at a 40 percent discount. And, as a MarketWatch column observed in November, "The more people see the film "Blackfish," the deeper stock of SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. dives." (Its stock has dropped from a just post-IPO launch high of $38 to $28 over the past six months.)
Candace Crespi of the Oceanic Preservation Society told The Dodo:
With first quarter attendance down by 13% compared to last year, and the recent denial of SeaWorld's appeal to get trainers back in the water with orcas, Blackstone Group clearly knows SeaWorld is a sinking ship. From the amount of stock sold, they seem to already be in the lifeboat.
The news comes after SeaWorld reported its fourth-quarter earnings last month, reporting a loss of 13 cents a share and revenue of $272 million -- down from $1.33 per share and a total revenue of $538.40 million in the previous quarter.