Marine mammal trainer Brooke Pelizzari bonding with dolphin Scooter at Sea World. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
Marine mammal trainer Brooke Pelizzari bonding with dolphin Scooter at Sea World. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

Village shares up on full-year results

THEME parks and cinema operator Village Roadshow swung to a net loss of $6.6 million for the 2018-19 financial year, but vastly increasd earnings and a strong start to the current year saw it announce its first shareholder dividend since the devastating ride tragedy at rival theme park Dreamworld.

Village's reported net earnings grew 37 per cent to $124.9 million, driven by fine weather and invigorated ticket sales at the company's theme parks, which include Sea World, MovieWorld, Wet n Wild and Paradise Country. The franked dividend of 5c will be paid on October 11.

The loss followed a narrow $200,000 profit the previous financial year and a $67.7 million loss the prior year.

Investors responded by sending Village shares up by 10.74 per cent by 11.36am.

Theme parks division CEO Clark Kirby said the results marked a turnaround for the company, with nety earnings at the parks up 100 per cent.

"We are thrilled with the result, the recovery in the market is well under way," he said.

"EBITDA is 100 per cent up on last year and we've started the financial year with a record July."

Mr Kirby said visitation at the parks was up 12 per cent year on year.

Part of the The New Atlantis site at Sea World on the Gold Coast.
Part of the The New Atlantis site at Sea World on the Gold Coast.

The company also announced it had struck a deal to sell its customer rewards company Edge Loyalty Systems to Blackhawk Network (Australia) for $32.3 million, subject to approvals.

Village said the current financial year had started strongly, with record July attendances driving higher in-park spend.

The company said it was focused on its $50 million rejuvenation of Sea World, including the New Atlantis themed precinct and its three key rides, The Vortex, due to launch in December, The Leviathan, to launch next December, and The Trident, which is slated to open in April 2021.

Village said its Gold Coast Topgolf's return on investment continued to disappoint, despite "outstanding guest satisfaction".

The plan for the new, reimagined Sea World on the Gold Coast. Photo: Village Roadshow Theme Parks.
The plan for the new, reimagined Sea World on the Gold Coast. Photo: Village Roadshow Theme Parks.

DREAMWORLD'S ARDENT LEISURE POSTS $60.9M LOSS

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It said its Cinema Exhibition Division had not met expectations, despite the success of Avengers: End Game, and the company had also been hit by lower screen advertising and for lease liabilities.

Delivering his last results as chief executive officer, Graham Burke said the group had a promising future.

"VRL is well positioned in the 'experience economy' where people are increasingly buying experiences rather than things," he said.

"FY2020 is off to a good start, with record July attendances at our theme parks and the outstanding performance of The Lion King in cinema, but offset by some softness in Film Distribution."

Village Roadshow chief executive Graham Burke at the Jam Factory cinemas in South Yarra. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.
Village Roadshow chief executive Graham Burke at the Jam Factory cinemas in South Yarra. Picture: David Geraghty / The Australian.

Executive chairman Mr Robert Kirby said the group's performance was improving.

"With outstanding underlying businesses, and exceptional people, VRL is well placed for sustainable growth in earnings and cash flow."

Gold Coaster Clark Kirby will succeed Mr Burke after he retires at the end of this year.



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