Theme park operator Merlin Entertainments will reveal how much wet weather and a spate of terrorist attacks affected its crucial summer peak this week.
Merlin, which runs attractions including Alton Towers and the London Eye, will update the market on Tuesday. Analysts at Barclays think the company's like-for-like growth slowed to 1.6 per cent in the quarter, while Legoland’s sites around the world enjoyed 5.4 per cent expansion.
The firm reported steady pre-tax profits of £50m and a 19 per cent rise in revenues to £685m for the six months to 1 July, helping to reassure investors that thrill-seekers continued to visit its attractions following violent incidents in Manchester and London. However, Merlin’s shares have underperformed the FTSE 100 since the end of the summer.
“It’s been a comparatively wet summer in the UK, with the result that the British business may well present a mixed picture,” said George Salmon at Hagreaves Lansdown. The firm generates two-thirds of its profits outside the UK, with Legoland offshoots as far away as Florida, Dubai and Japan. Merlin is launching a Madame Tussauds in Delhi and also hopes to build a new Lego-themed attraction in New York.
The prospects for takeovers will also be high on some investors’ agendas, after Merlin denied reports last week that it was considering buying theme parks from struggling SeaWorld. The group’s acquisitions have been relatively small since its IPO in 2013, taking in a minority stake in Big Bus Tours last year and several new sites across Asia.