This Jan. 31, 2017, file photo, shows the entrance to SeaWorld, in Orlando, Fla. SeaWorld Entertainment is furloughing 90% of its workers because the novel coronavirus had forced the company to close its 12 theme parks. The employees will be paid through the beginning of next week. After next week, the workers will be off without pay for an uncertain time, the Orlando-based company said Friday, March 27, 2020, in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — SeaWorld Entertainment's chief executive has resigned only five months into his job, becoming the third leader of the theme park company to depart in just over two years, according to a company filing released Monday.
Sergio Rivera cited his disagreement with the board of directors' involvement in decision-making at the company, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
His predecessor, Gustavo “Gus” Antorcha, cited a similar reason for his leaving last September.
Rivera handed in his resignation Saturday. He was named the CEO of the company last November.
“The board remains united in guiding the company through the tough but necessary decisions to best position the business for long-term success,” board chairman Scott Ross said in a statement.
The spread of the novel coronavirus has paralyzed the theme park industry. Like most other theme park companies operating in the U.S., SeaWorld's 12 theme parks have been closed since mid-March.
The company said more than a week ago that it was furloughing 90% of its workers.
SeaWorld employs about 4,700 full-time employees and approximately 12,000 part-time employees. During peak season in 2018, the company hired more than 4,000 additional seasonal workers, many of whom are high school and college students. None of the company’s employees are covered by a collective bargaining agreement.
The pandemic also has forced the closures of SeaWorld's crosstown rivals, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, as well as their California counterparts. Disney World said last week it would start furloughing executive, salaried and hourly non-union employees in mid-April, as it didn't know when its parks would reopen. Universal Orlando had previously aimed to re-open its parks in mid-April, but a spokesman said that the closures likely will be extended.
Marc Swanson, SeaWorld’s chief financial officer and treasurer, was named interim CEO. The company said he would stay in the job at least until the theme parks reopen.
“The board will review the role once the company reopens its theme parks," the SEC filing said.
Before the pandemic forced its parks to close, SeaWorld had been on an upswing after suffering lost attendance and revenue in the years after the release of the 2013 documentary “Blackfish." The film focused on the life of Tilikum, a killer whale responsible for killing trainer Dawn Brancheau when he dragged her into a pool in front of shocked visitors in 2010.
In the fourth quarter of last year, SeaWorld had a 2.2% increase in attendance from the same time in 2018. Attendance for fiscal year 2019 was 22.6 million visitors, up 0.2% from the prior year. Total revenue for fiscal 2019 increased almost 2% over the prior year to $1.4 billion, and net income jumped in fiscal year 2019 by almost 100% over the previous year to $89.5 million.
“This is a unique and extraordinary period for our company, our industry, and the world," Swanson said in a statement. “We have a long tenured and experienced leadership team that is focused on managing this business through this difficult time, resuming operations and welcoming our valued ambassadors and guests back as soon as possible.”
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP.
6 Stocks That May Not Survive the Coronavirus
Companies that are in a shaky financial position may sometimes attract investors in a bull market. Traders seeking a short-term profit can often use an oversold condition to capture a quick gain. But in a bear market, these companies frequently are left on the sidelines.
But a declining stock price by itself should not be enough to scare investors off. What investors really need to pay attention to is the company’s ability to finance existing debt or take on additional debt. Companies with low credit ratings face the problem of having too much debt on their books and an inability to finance it at more favorable rates.
That’s one reason we’ve put together this presentation that highlights 6 companies that may not survive the coronavirus. These companies have low stock prices. In fact, many of them are, or will be, in danger of being delisted if they cannot bring their stock above the $1 threshold. And on top of that, these companies each carry credit ratings of CCC+ or lower and are at risk of seeing those ratings even go lower.
Each of the companies presented here are considered to be among the weakest, if not the weakest, in their sector. If you have any of these falling knives in your portfolio now is the time to cut your losses and walk away.
View the "6 Stocks That May Not Survive the Coronavirus".