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SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., the theme-park operator that sold stock to the public in April, posted third-quarter profit that beat analysts’ estimates as a drop in attendance eased and average ticket prices increased.

Net income rose 30 percent to $120.2 million, or $1.33 a share, from $92.3 million, or $1.11, a year earlier, the Orlando, Florida-based company said today in a statement. Analysts had forecast profit of $1.19 a share, the average of six estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales grew 3.1 percent to $538.4 million, missing the $545.3 million average estimate.

SeaWorld made headway in efforts to stem falling attendance. Admissions shrank 3.6 percent in the quarter, compared with a 9.5 percent drop the previous three months. The company, which cited bad weather in July and fewer discounts for the attendance drop, was the subject of a documentary critical of its treatment of killer whales.

The company projects revenue of $1.45 billion to $1.46 billion for the full year. In August, SeaWorld estimated sales of as much as $1.48 billion. The company now forecasts earnings of $432 million and $442 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, compared with an earlier estimate of $430 million to $440 million.

The stock fell 2.2 percent to $32.10 in extended trading. SeaWorld gained 2.8 percent to $32.82 at the close in New York and has advanced 22 percent since the stock began trading in April.

Editors: Rob Golum, Anthony Palazzo. To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at