SBD/April 5, 2011/Finance

ISC Says Q1 Earnings Exceeded Expectations Largely Due To Strong Race Attendance

Int'l Speedway Corp. (ISC) today reported Q1 earnings that exceeded the company's expectations largely because of strong attendance for races at Daytona, Phoenix and Auto Club speedways. The company's Q1 revenues declined 2% from the same period in '10 to $148.7M. Admissions revenue totaled $36M and motorsports related revenue totaled $97.9M. Both of those primary revenue streams were nearly flat with the first quarter of '10. At the same time revenues remained flat, expenses decreased $3M to $109M. ISC reported that net income in Q1 '11 was $21.4M compared to $25.4M in '10, but '10 income benefitted from $5M in tax settlements. ISC Vice Chair & CEO Lesa France Kennedy said, "We are pleased to report first quarter results that exceeded our financial expectations. ... Disciplined focus on the cost-side of the business is delivering the expected marked improvement in our operating margin." During an earnings call, ISC execs said they were encouraged that the strengthening economy would benefit the company as the year progressed. ISC has sold 87% of its targeted sponsorship revenue and has five Sprint Cup and three Nationwide race entitlements left to sell in the '11 season. It expects to sell out those entitlements later this year. Ticket sales have not returned to normal since the recession. Currently, advance ticket sales are off by 11% in units sold and 12% in revenues for the year. For the Daytona 500, some 30,000 tickets (20% of tickets sold) were purchased during the final three weeks before the race. ISC President John Saunders: "Regaining a more normalized advanced ticket sales trend is a priority." ISC reiterated its expectation that '11 revenues will total $635-650M.

MONITORING THE GAS PUMP: Saunders said that the company is watching gas prices closely and noted that rises in gas prices have not affected fans to date, but that could change in the future, especially at destination races like Talladega. ISC is focused on attracting new fans and is developing marketing to target the youth demographic. A study ISC did in late '09 showed that avid fans used to attend five Sprint Cup races a year but that number has declined to two to three races. ISC is focused on keeping its core fans and attracting more first time fans to fill that gap, Saunders said.
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