SeaWorld bottom line hit hard by orca controversy
SAN DIEGO — One day after announcing lower-than-expected earnings, SeaWorld had its credit rating lowered to the level of junk bonds on Thursday.
Standard & Poor’s announced that it had lowered SeaWorld Entertainment’s credit rating amid negative publicity over its treatment of killer whales, the Los Angeles Times reported.
On Wednesday, SeaWorld experienced a record drop in its stock price after reporting lower-than-expected earnings for the second quarter.
In response, Standard & Poor’s dropped SeaWorld’s corporate credit rating to BB- from BB, pushing the rating further below investment grade, also known as junk status.
“The negative outlook reflects our belief that the company faces significant challenges regarding reputational risk and potential improvements in operating performance beyond 2014,” Standard & Poor’s said in a statement.
SeaWorld officials had previously attributed lower attendance numbers to bad weather, higher ticket prices and a shift in the timing of Easter this year. But SeaWorld conceded in its earnings report Wednesday that negative publicity over charges that it mistreats its killer whales has hurt attendance.
The criticism of SeaWorld gained momentum last year with the release of a documentary, “Blackfish,” that accused the theme park company of mistreating the orcas featured in its shows.