Why the Ardent Leisure (ASX:ALG) share price is surging 7%

The Ardent Leisure Group Ltd (ASX: ALG) share price is up 7% today as the company gives an update on operations and executives.
The post Why the Ardent Leisure (ASX:ALG) share price is surging 7% appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

A happy woman raises her face in celebration, indicating positive share price movement on the ASX

The Ardent Leisure Group Ltd (ASX: ALG) share price is above the clouds today. At the time of writing, the tourism operator’s shares are swapping hands for 99 cents each, up 7%. By comparison, the S&P/ASX All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) is 1.5% lower.

Today’s price movement comes as the company updated the market on its recent financial performance and announced the immediate departure of one of its senior executives.

Let’s take a closer look at today’s announcements and what they might mean for the Ardent share price.

Performance update

Main Event

In the first part of its first statement, the company gave a mixed assessment of the financial operations of its various businesses.

In the update for subsidiary Main Event, a US-based family entertainment company with 44 locations, the figures compare the reopened centres only (34 of 44) to their previous performances.

Revenue was down 18.8% in January compared to the previous year. While negative, the rate is lower than compared to the latter half of 2020.  In February, revenue was down 21.5%. The company attributed this increasing rate to the winter storms which devasted the US, and particularly Texas.

Without the impact of the storms, Ardent says revenue would only be down 15.8% compared to FY19.

In March 2021, centre revenue was up 23% compared to March 2019. It is compared to 2019 and not 2020 because all centres were shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company said it achieved its best sales week ever during the month, despite 2 centres still closed.

During the first 19 days of April, revenue was up 44% compared to 24 months prior.

Ardent says Main Event’s strong performance in the last couple of months was because of speedy vaccine rollout in the United States, direct stimulus payments to consumers, and lowering COVID infection rates.

Main Event president and CEO Chris Morris said:

Current trading conditions should not be taken as a guide to future performance.

We are unable to predict the length and extent of the strong constant centre revenue growth since March, however, we are optimistic that consumer demand will remain robust as long as the United States does not suffer any setbacks in case counts or vaccine efficacy.

Theme Parks

Ardent gave a pessimistic outlook on its theme park operations. The company’s best-known theme parks are Dreamworld, Movie World, and WhiteWater World on the Gold Coast. 

Trading during the second half of the financial year was impacted by the Brisbane lockdowns and “adverse weather events”. Both occurred during the first week of the school holidays, a peak time for the company.

Attendance numbers were steady compared to the previous year. However, the company expects its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to be down due to the end of the JobKeeper subsidy.

Theme Parks CEO John Osborne said the company expected conditions to remain challenging for the remainder of FY21 and the first half of FY22.

We are optimistic about trading in the second half of FY22, driven by the expected opening of Steel Taipan and pent-up local and interstate demand though this is largely contingent on the Australian vaccine rollout, no COVID-19 outbreaks and resultant domestic border confidence.

CEO departs

The company also announced Mr Osborne would be leaving his role, effective immediately, for personal reasons. Theme Parks’ previous chief operating officer Greg Young will replace him.

Mr Osborne will continue to consult Mr Young on several projects.

Ardent share price snapshot

Over the past year, the Ardent share price has increased 249.1%. The company hit its 52-week record at the beginning of March 2021 and is only just under it now. However, Ardent shares are still 33.5% lower than the beginning of February 2020, just before the pandemic.

Ardent Leisure has a market capitalisation of $441.3 million.

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Motley Fool contributor Marc Sidarous has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

The post Why the Ardent Leisure (ASX:ALG) share price is surging 7% appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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