Blackfish documentary, bad press over killer whales drops SeaWorld stock, stops future payouts

The company behind SeaWorld is facing a big drop in its shares and announced this week that future payouts to shareholders will be stopped.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has been battling shrinking attendance at its theme parks and its stock fell to $11.77 this week.

Next week, shareholders will receive 10 cents a share, payable on Oct. 7, and then future payments will be stopped, SeaWorld said Monday in a statement.

The previous dividend had been 21 cents. The company’s largest stockholder, Blackstone Group LP, has a 22 percent stake.

Halting the payments will let the company support the long-term development of the business, Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said in the statement.

The shares have fallen 36 percent this year after Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld reported lower attendance and reduced its earnings guidance.

We will remain disciplined and regularly assess our allocation of capital.”

SeaWorld has battled an ongoing campaign by animal rights activists who say the company shouldn’t keep killer whales in captivity. After negativity publicity surrounding the whale documentary “Blackfish” and legislative efforts to halt breeding ate into attendance, SeaWorld said it would no long use the animals for entertainment-related shows and no longer mate them.

The company is trying to invest in more non-animal attractions, such as roller coasters and ocean-themed rides.

 

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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