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Published: Wednesday, 8/1/2007

Cedar Fair earnings fall by 50% for period

SANDUSKY The owner of 12 amusement and five water parks cast its latest quarterly earnings in a healthy light, but it admitted visitor numbers fell after discounts were curbed, and its profit was cut in half.

Still, a 5 percent increase in visitor spending help offset the 3 percent attendance decline, Cedar Fair LP said yesterday when it released its second-quarter earnings.

The firm, which owns Cedar Point and other parks, said its resort-hotel and other non-park revenues dropped 3 percent for the quarter.

It posted a profit of $5.5 million, or 10 cents a share, for the quarter ending June 24, down from a profit of $11 million, or 20 cents a share, for the same period a year ago. Its revenues climbed to $274 million from $145 million a year ago before it purchased Paramount Parks.

The firm said its same-park revenues increased 1 percent from a year ago, which seems to mean its newly acquired Paramount Parks struggled.

Richard Kinzel, company chief executive, said the average per-visitor spending at its parks was up to $40.54, which he said was pleasing. Attendance, he said, was 6.3 million, down 105,000 from a year ago, and out-of-park revenues were $27.9 million, down $757,000 from a year ago.

The company also had a big drop in its profits for a 12-month period. It was $53 million for the latest period, which included its Paramount Parks, but was $158 million for the prior 12 months, before its Paramount buy.

A year ago, Cedar Fair completed its $1.24 billion purchase of Paramount, adding five parks in the United States and Canada. Paramount had about $423 million in revenues the year before the purchase and drew 12.2 million customers. Cedar Fair, with $569 million in revenues two years ago, became the world s third-largest amusement park owner.

Also yesterday, Mr. Kinzel again denied published reports that his firm was being acquired. The New York Post twice in the past month has said the Sandusky company is in talks with different parties about a takeover.

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