SIX Flags blames terror attacks for earnings shortfall

Thursday, November 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Six Flags Inc. officials said the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks set the company back during its busiest time of the year, resulting in a $30 million loss in the company's bottom line.

The Oklahoma City-based theme park operator is blaming the attacks for a shortfall in third-quarter earnings.

Six Flags posted third-quarter profits of $148 million, or $1.39 a share, coming in at the low end of analysts' expectations. On average, analysts predicted the company would earn $1.47 a share, just shy of the $1.49 the company delivered in the third quarter of 2000.

``Domestically _ notwithstanding worsening economic conditions _ our performance had been reasonably good through August and was in particular building momentum in early September,'' said Chairman and Chief Executive Kieran E. Burke. ``However, performance suffered considerably in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, with significant attendance and revenue declines in a broad number of markets.''

He estimated the tragedy cost the company $25 million to $30 million in revenue from Sept. 11 to the end of October.

Tulsa money manager Fredric E. Russell said Six Flags' downturn should not surprise investors.

``When you have planes falling out of the sky, anything that sends you up into the air has got to be a little scary,'' Russell said.

Russell said consumers did not spend money at the theme park because of the faltering economy.

Six Flags saw third-quarter revenues climb from their levels in the previous year. The company posted quarterly sales of $572 million, up 4.4 percent from the $548 million generated in the third quarter of 2000.

Total revenues for the first nine months of 2001 were also up, increasing 4.8 percent _ from $919 million to $963 million _ from levels reported last year.

Six Flags predicted total revenues for the year would be 3.6 percent higher than they were in 2000.