Why is the Ardent Leisure share price crashing 67% today?

Ardent Leisure shares have crashed lower on Tuesday. Here’s why…

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Key points

  • Ardent Leisure shares have crashed materially lower on Tuesday morning
  • This relates to the sale of its US based Main Event business to Dave & Buster's
  • This morning Ardent Leisure shares are trading ex-dividend for a major capital return and special dividend

The Ardent Leisure Group Ltd (ASX: ALG) share price has taken an almighty tumble on Tuesday morning.

In early trade, the entertainment company’s shares are the worst performers on the All Ordinaries index with a whopping 67% decline to 47 cents.

Why is the Ardent Leisure share price crashing?

The good news for shareholders is that today’s decline has nothing to do with the company’s performance or a bearish broker note. Instead, this decline is because a big payday is coming to shareholders next week.

Last week, Ardent Leisure shareholders voted in favour of a return of capital following the completion of the sale of its Main Event business in the United States to Dave & Busters.

This morning, the Ardent Leisure share price is trading ex-dividend for this return.

What’s the capital return?

Ardent Leisure will be returning a massive $455.7 million or 95 cents per share to shareholders next week on 13 July.

This comprises a return of capital of $221.0 million or 46.0699 cents per share and an unfranked dividend of $234.7 million or 48.9301 cents per share.

To be eligible for the return, investors needed to own the company’s shares at the market close on Monday. This means that anyone buying Ardent Leisure shares today will not receive this capital return or dividend. Instead, the rights to these returns remain with the seller.

What’s left of Ardent Leisure?

Following the sale of Main Event, Ardent Leisure will be left with its Theme Parks & Attractions business, which comprises Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, and SkyPoint.

Management remains optimistic on the future of these businesses. The company’s chair, Dr Gary Weiss, commented:

Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint are iconic attractions with proven historical performance, underpinned by freehold land ownership in one of the fastest growth corridors in Australia. The sale of Main Event now provides Ardent Leisure with the capital required to support the ongoing recovery, growth and development of our Theme Parks & Attractions business which is the Board’s principal focus. Further investment in this business will better position it to benefit from expected increases in leisure spending, including as a result of increased levels of interstate and international travel to Queensland following the suppressed levels experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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