When the closing bell rang on Thursday, Timothy Conder had an overweight rating and a $49 per share price target on the theme park stock. Later that night, Conder downgraded Six Flags to equal weight and cut the target price to $42, citing concerns about the company's problem-plagued projects in China. He was more bullish on the company's prospects in the United States.
"Domestic strength and beneficial seasonal smoothing of tiered memberships could be clouded by potential international 'adjustments,'" Conder said in the Thursday note.
The idea of domestic strength soon evaporated. Six Flags said on Friday morning that it would report no fourth-quarter revenue from its Chinese partnership and that attendance declined year over year in its U.S. parks for the quarter. Conder went back to the drawing board, slashing the price target to $38 and downgrading to underweight at roughly 10 a.m. Eastern.
After closing at $43.76 per share on the day before, Six Flags plunged nearly 18% on Friday and is now trading below Wells Fargo's latest price target.
"Based on our revised estimates, the dividend appears secure, but investors likely will not give SIX any near-term credit until clarity on domestic demand emerges. We see no near-term upside catalysts," Conder said in the Friday note.
Six Flags said in a securities filing that its partner in China, Riverside Investment Group, is struggling "due to the macroeconomic environment and the declining real estate market in China." The company said that it has delivered a default notice to Riverside and that the ordeal could lead to the termination of all Six Flags projects in China.
The company also said it saw weaker-than-expected sales of season passes in memberships in the U.S., and would report a total revenue dip of $8 million to $10 million for the fourth quarter.
That declining performance in the U.S. has more to do with Six Flags than theme park industry as a whole, according to Wells Fargo.
"We believe SIX issues (China, membership sales) are more specific to the company vs. an emerging broader industry issue in the core N American market," Conder said in the second note to clients.