SeaWorld stock jumps 24% on first trading day

The theme park chain's initial public offering will pay down debt, and may deliver dividends for fun-loving investors.

By Jason Notte Apr 19, 2013 5:07PM
AP: 110307062189
Believe show in Shamu Stadium at the SeaWorld Orlando theme park in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld (SEAS) shares soared more than 24% to close at $33.52 Friday, their first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

With help from private equity firm Blackstone Group (BX), the amusement park chain raised $702 million by offering 26 million shares at $27 a piece. To celebrate its roughly $2.5 billion windfall, CNN notes that SeaWorld trotted penguins, an otter and a lemur through the NYSE trading floor.

Since Blackstone bought SeaWorld from brewing giant Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD) in 2009, SeaWorld's books have begun working their way above sea level.

Last year, revenue increased 7% to $1.4 billion while profits more than quadrupled to $77.5 billion. According to SeaWorld CEO Jim Atchison, the funds from the company's stock offering will help pay down its debt, though the company is already promising shareholders a dividend of 80 cents a year.

Sea World runs 11 theme parks, including three SeaWorld locations and the Busch Gardens franchise -- the last remnant of its ties to Anheuser-Busch. This year, it plans to open "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins" at its Orlando theme park and give visitors a view of more than 250 penguins.

With April more than halfway over and Memorial Day and summer fast approaching, SeaWorld stock is just another way for cubicle-bound investors to get a piece of everybody else's fun in the sun. Theme park chains Six Flags (SIX) and Cedar Fair (FUN) are both publicly traded and have both seen a more than 20% boost this year. There's always Disney (DIS) stock, which is up roughly 15% in 2013, but its price and the diversity of Disney's holdings beyond its theme parks make those shares a wild ride.

More on moneyNOW

Apr 20, 2013 1:06AM
Does shamu get a raise or stock options in her 401k????
Apr 22, 2013 4:23PM
Wow, $77.5 BILLION in profits based off $1.4 billion in revenue!  That's incredible!  I've never seen a business with 77x more dollars in profits than in revenue it took in!
Apr 20, 2013 12:54PM
SeaWorld seems pretty specific in what it does and susceptible to common events like poor weather or thrifty vacationers.
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