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Ardent Leisure share price surges 5% on half-year earnings

The Ardent Leisure Group Ltd (ASX: ALG) share price has surged 5.24% on the ASX this afternoon despite recording a net loss after tax of $21.8 million, down 39.7% on last year’s numbers.

What happened in the first half?

Group revenue fell 14.6% on prior corresponding period (pcp) to $226.7 million as 23.4% growth in Main Event revenue was dragged down by the sale of Marinas (August 2017) and Bowling & Entertainment (April 2018) segments which contributed $75.1 million in 1H18.

Business unit statutory EBITDA rose 84.3% to $9.4 million as it continued to be impacted by costs relating to the Thunder River Rapids ride incident at Dreamworld (October 2016) and restructuring costs.

EBIT margin for the group declined 8.9 percentage points to 10.4% and this was largely supported by the strong Main Event performance. EBITDA margin rose 0.9 percentage points to 11.5% in a sign that change could be finally coming for the group.

Net debt increased by $68.9 million to $80.2 million in the half as capex in Theme Parks ($17.4 million) and Main Event ($14.9 million) as well as $14.3 million in distributions all contributed.

Unfortunately for shareholders, management declared there will be no interim dividend, down from 2.0 cents per share (cps) in 1H18.

The company’s shares have fallen 47% since the fateful 2016 Dreamworld accident which saw theme park visitor numbers plummet amid ongoing inquests into the incident.

Foolish takeaway

The leisure industry remains in trouble from my perspective, particularly given a similarly unprofitable result from Village Roadshow Limited (ASX: VRL) earlier today.

Ardent Leisure continues to be plagued by the River Rapids incident and despite signs of improvement, I think it’s a rocky road ahead over the next 6-12 months.

In the meantime, I’d suggest Fools check out these top growth shares that have been tipped as market beaters.

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Motley Fool contributor Lachlan Hall has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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