According to SeaWorld Entertainment's website, the company "creates distinctive entertainment experiences that blend imagination with a passion for nature. Our theme parks and products inspire millions to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share through the power of entertainment."
On April 18, 2013, SeaWorld Entertainment (NYSE:SEAS) went public by offering 26 million shares of common stock at $27 per share. The initial offering raised $702 million and valued the company at $2.5 billion. A year later, stocks were trading at an 11% increase from the IPO. Things were looking up for SeaWorld and its brand of entertainment.
A few short months later, things were about to change. On July 19th, 2013, when Blackfish, a documentary that focuses on captive killer whales in marine parks, was released, SeaWorld stock was trading at approximately $38 a share. The movie told the story of Tilikum, a killer whale that was involved in the deaths of 3 people, most recently the death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer at SeaWorld Orlando on February 24th, 2010. The release of Blackfish led to a 20% decline in stock price over the next few months. In addition, when a class-action lawsuit was filed on September 9, 2014, SeaWorld's stock tumbled another 33%. The class action lawsuit was on behalf of shareholders who claimed that SeaWorld, during its IPO, did not disclose the improper practices that were revealed by the movie Blackfish.
The negative publicity created by Blackfish led to a decrease in park attendance, caused companies, like Southwest Airlines, to end their association with the company, and most notably led to the decrease of SeaWorld's stock price. Can SeaWorld recover? Only time will tell. If SeaWorld can prove to the public that they have the animals' best interest at heart, SeaWorld will have a chance to increase its attendance and possibly their stock price will rebound.