One of the biggest no-no’s for dividend stocks is to cut a payout. An even worse sin for a stock is a full-on dividend suspension. For investors in SeaWorld Entertainment (SEAS ), they got both in one press release.
It’s no secret that the theme park operator has been struggling in the wake of a major PR scandal and fallout following the release of the documentary Blackfish. Add in its high debts to the equation and the dividend cut at SEAS seemed inevitable. The question now is whether there’s hope for the park operator to regain its footing, and restart that dividend down the road.
Given how murky the situation is, it may seem unlikely.
Blackfish’s Black Eye
When InBev (BUD ) decided to purchase Anheuser-Busch, it solely wanted the latter’s brewing and beverage operations. However, tucked inside Anheuser-Busch was Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC), owner of Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and other theme parks across the country. Blackstone (BX ) was able to snatch up these operations for a song. After doing the typical private equity dance of “milking a company for its cash and loading it with debt,” it spun out SEAS to the public.