Merlin Entertainments (LON:MERL) has updated investors on its full-year performance this morning.
**Highlights from the company statement:**
· 2016 revenue growth of 11.7% (3.6% at constant currency) reflecting the diversified nature of the portfolio.
· Underlying earnings per share growth of 9.3%.
· Profit decline at constant currency due to challenging trading in a number of key markets not fully offset by cost mitigation actions taken throughout the year.
· Strong cash flow generation with EBITDA of £433m on a 52 week basis (£451 million on a 53 week basis) which converted to operating cash flow of £433 million (2015: £325 million).
· Like for like revenue growth in the Resort Theme Parks Operating Group (RTP) of 4.3%. Recovery well underway at Alton Towers, with strong performances from the wider RTP estate.
· Like for like revenue growth of 1.6% in the LEGOLAND Parks Operating Group.
· Midway Attractions Operating Group like for like revenue decline of 0.2% due to difficult trading conditions in certain key markets.
· Good progress towards 2020 milestones:
o Five new Midways opened in 2016; over 20 now opened, under development or approved
o 210 rooms opened in 2016; over 1,500 now opened, under development or approved
o LEGOLAND Dubai opened on 31 October 2016, with good progress towards further LEGOLAND park openings.
Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive Officer, said:
“Our performance in 2016 is testament to the benefits of our strategy of portfolio and geographic diversification, with over 70% of our profits coming from outside of the UK. We have seen the continuation of a recovery in Resort Theme Parks, steady growth in LEGOLAND Parks and a strong contribution from New Business Development. The external environment continued to present challenges in a number of our key markets although the impact of this was offset to some degree by cost control measures taken during the year.
We made good progress against our 2020 milestones in 2016. Five new Midway attractions opened, our accommodation offering expanded, and our entry into the Middle East region was celebrated with the opening of LEGOLAND Dubai in October. The pipeline into 2017 and beyond looks exciting with over half of the projects necessary to achieve our 2020 milestones either opened, approved or under development.
As we move into 2017, with ongoing volatility in a number of our markets and continued cost pressures, we will increase our focus on cost efficiency and productivity, while continuing to invest in our product, marketing, and people to deliver safe and memorable experiences to our guests.
We continue to be excited about the long term growth opportunities for Merlin. Whilst we are planning prudently, we remain confident of a good performance in the year ahead.”
As of 07:10 GMT, Thursday, 02 March, Merlin Entertainments share price is 479.90p.