There’s something fishy going on at SeaWorld, and it’s making investors nervous. Shares prices for the company stock sank to a record low on August 4, 2016, as the company reported a $16 million reduction in their quarterly earnings after promising shareholders growth. Unfortunately, it appears the company may be in a free fall despite management promises.
SeaWorld’s troubles began in 2013 when a documentary film maker accused the company of mistreating the animals in its care. Although the allegations of abuse were never confirmed, a massive and successful boycott of the company was launched. The company responded by rebranding itself, hoping to lure back the visitors it lost. Killer whales and other animal performances were phased out as were breeding programs that breed killer whales in captivity. New exhibits were designed and built to showcase animals in a more natural habitat. SeaWorld expected this strategy to work and some argue that it did, despite abysmal numbers.
Though the SeaWorld boycott originally dropped visitor numbers, chief executive Joel Manby insists that “brand issues are abating.” He claims that attendance is stronger in California and Texas and that only Florida lags behind. He blames a decrease in attendance of Latino visitors at the Florida location for the abysmal numbers.
Whatever the reason, SeaWorld shares have dropped in value by 35% in 2016 alone. Manby and his colleagues clearly have their work cut out for them if they want to return SeaWorld stocks to their former glory.