SBJ/Jan. 31-Feb. 6, 2011/Facilities

Drop in ticket sales weakens earnings at ISC

Declining ticket sales depressed year-end earnings results for International Speedway Corp.

The company last week reported net income for the year ending Nov. 30, 2010, excluding discontinued operations, was approximately $73.2 million, or $1.52 per share. That was down from $90.7 million, or $1.86 per share, for fiscal year 2009.

ISC said it faced challenges in consumer spending, as ticket revenue fell 18 percent.
Ticket sales revenue in 2010 dropped to $160.4 million, an 18 percent decrease from the $195.5 million generated from tickets in 2009. Motorsports-related revenue declined by 2.6 percent to $420.9 million, and concession and merchandise revenue declined by 6.9 percent to $52.5 million in 2010.

ISC President John Saunders said advance ticket sales for Sprint Cup races in 2011 are down 5 and 6 percent from 2010 sales in volume and revenue, respectively. The season-ticket retention rate at ISC’s 12 tracks is in the low 50 percent range.

“We are pleased that in light of the continued macroeconomic headwinds we still ended this year with solid results,” Saunders said. “Going into the 2011 season, we are still seeing challenges in consumer spending but remain encouraged by many corporate spending trends.”

ISC has five race title sponsorships open or not announced for Sprint Cup races this year and four for Nationwide Series races. It had four and three open or not announced for those series, respectively, in 2010.

Saunders said sponsorship prices would be flat with 2010 and cautioned that corporate budgets hadn’t returned to pre-recession levels.

“We have a lot of confidence these entitlements will get sold,” Saunders said.

ISC plans to spend $65 million to $75 million on its facilities in 2011. Saunders said the company is focused on the guest experience at racetracks and plans to improve seating by widening seats and adding new fan amenities such as improved track scoreboards.

The company also plans to accelerate its use of social media platforms and mobile websites to improve the at-track experience for fans. Saunders said research shows that first-time attendees to NASCAR events are intimidated by the logistics of parking and moving about a racetrack for the first time. He hopes social media enhancements will relieve some of that unease and help tracks attract new customers.

ISC anticipates total revenue in 2011 to be between $635 million and $650 million. It reported total revenue of $645.4 million for 2010.

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