SeaWorld Earnings Tank; Unstoppable Facebook; Expedia’s Vacation Plans

Nothing to Sea here folks…

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bandrat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Once again, the life aquatic seems to be taking a hit. SeaWorld is still having a hard time trying to convince the world, and PETA, that its Killer Whales are much happier at the theme parks than in the wild where they’d have to fend for themselves. “Blackfish,” a scathing documentary released in 2013, continues to paint SeaWorld as the bad guy and even though there’s technically no such thing as bad publicity, this situation might prove to be the exception. The company’s third quarter earnings were short of estimates with profit – yes, it still made one – of $98 million adding $1.14 per share. While forecasts were for $1.18, the $1.14 added per share was still better than last year’s take of $87 million in profit with $1 added per share. Revenue also disappointed since it increased by just .2%, coming in at $470 million, when analysts predictions were for over $508 million. Brass at SeaWorld blamed the weather and legal fees for those digits. Can’t mother nature catch a break? Attendance took a .4% hit, dropping to 8.37 million people. Former Dollywood CEO Joel Manby has taken over the reins at SeaWorld and its 11 theme parks. That should be fun to watch. Despite the dismal earnings, SeaWorld San Diego is looking to expand its Killer Whales tank. Except, they have to promise not to breed them there. But SeaWorld has no intention of making any such promises. So stay tuned…

Facebank’d…

Image courtesy of  basketman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of basketman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just when you thought Facebook couldn’t get any bigger, and I don’t know why you even thought that, the social networking company gave us some new and even more improved digits. For instance, Facebook’s new market cap is valued at $308 billion. More than Intel and Cisco, companies that produce actual tangible products.  From there Facebook continues its fiscal celebration by sharing that it sold $1 billion more in ads than it did a year ago. I did write billion. Facebook’s total ad revenue was up 45% and, mind you, 78% of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from mobile. Its revenue is also up 41% to $4.5 billion and is trading around $109 per share. By George, that’s three times more than its IPO price. The company also added 31 cent per share on $896 million in net income, just $90 million and one cent more than it did last year at this time. Of course, then there’s Facebook’s 1.545 billion total monthly active users. Just to clarify, Facebook gets over one billion visitors every single day.  Facebook is still blocked in China, yet it remains the company’s biggest advertising market. The ever industrious Mark Zuckerberg and his team of 12,000 are finding ways to get around the mainland. After all, the baby-faced CEO is determined to Facebook his way into one of the worlds biggest countries and is on a mission to bring the web to every single person on the planet. That could prove to be an impossible feat with out China in the mix.

Do not disturb…

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of phasinphoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Expedia went shopping today and picked up vacation home rental website HomeAway for the bargain price of $3.9 billion. Actually, I’m not sure how much of a bargain that was since Expedia is paying $38.31 per share, a 20% premium over Wednesday’s closing price. But no matter as this deal might just solidify Expedia’s status as an online travel superstar. Kind of like what Amazon is to e-commerce. Some, however, are a wee bit concerned that there might just be some antitrust issues involved since Expedia has been on a bit of a shopping spree having picked up Orbitz Worldwide – which also owns Cheaptickets.com –  for $1.38 billion, and Travelocity for $280 million. And while HomeAway boasts over one million vacation home rental listings in almost 200 countries, it’s not necessarily competition to Airbnb since Airbnb lists homes as opposed to vacation rentals. In any case, the alternative accommodation space industry is estimated to be worth about $100 billion so it’s probably safe to say that there is room for a little competition.

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Expedia Challenges Priceline With its Latest Acquisition; Retail Sector: Where Have All the Shoppers Gone? Costco Breaks Up With Amex

Book it…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Priceline look out! And you too, William Shatner. Expedia just announced its lofty plans to buy Orbitz Worldwide Inc.for $1.34 billion, which squares out to about $12 a share at a 25% premium. The folks at Expedia feel it’ll help them give Priceline Group Inc. a real run for its money – and reservations, I suppose. Orbitz already picked up Travelocity a while back for $280 million and now the online travel booking service also gets CheapTickets, and ebookers as part of this latest deal. As you may recall (and it’s perfectly fine if you don’t), Priceline itself made a few purchases itself last year when it scooped up a stake in ctrip.com International and OpenTable Inc. Apparently, mergers and acquisitions in the online booking arena are all the rage right now but let’s just see how it pans out fiscally for the consumers booking all those services.

Show me the money…

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Will the retail sector get it right already? January proved to be a colossal fiscal bummer as the Commerce Department announced that sales in the retail sector fell, yet again, to 0.8%. Economists forecasted it would only drop 0.4% and it’s the second straight month to drop after December’s dismal 0.9% plunge. So what gives? After all, gas prices are low, employment numbers are rockin’ and even wages are coming up…a smidge. Apparently, Americans have been more inclined to actually pay down some of their debt and even save up some cash for a rainy day. The nerve of those fiscally responsible Americans, I tell you. But economists, the same ones who predicted those retail numbers would only fall to 0.4% instead of the 0.8% it did fall, are predicting that those numbers should come right back up to a more respectable level, if we give it some…space. Let’s just hope they’re right this time.

While we’re on the topic of retail…

Image courtesy of photoraidz/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of photoraidz/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Costco shoppers rejoice. Next year when you go shopping at the wholesale warehouse you needn’t bother whipping out your Amex card anymore. The world’s second largest retailer and the charge card company just couldn’t work things out and thus an exclusive relationship between Costco and American Express is coming to an end March 31, 2016. The exclusive agreement allowed for Costco to pay a much smaller rate than other companies but alas, all good things must come to an end. The rate was so low , in fact, that it explains why the deal even lasted as long as it did. And thus, a sixteen year relationship has thrown in its fiscal towel. Sniff sniff. In Canada, a similar deal also came to an unfortunate demise last year. Oh Canada!  On Wall Street shares of American Express, took a bit of a hit while Costco shares actually went up. Perhaps next year, as you find yourself stocking up on a year’s supply of toilet paper and deodorant, you might just get to use your Visa or Mastercard, two cards that have so long yearned to be a part of the Costco magic.