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SeaWorld stock surges in 1st day on NYSE

| Saturday, April 20, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. made a splash Friday in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The owner of theme parks famous for water shows featuring killer whales and dolphins jumped $6.52, or 24 percent, to close at $33.52, after the company and its backers raised $702 million.

The initial public offering of 26 million shares was priced at $27 per share, which was at the high end of the expected range of $24 to $27 per share. The IPO's size increased from the 20 million shares that SeaWorld and its owner, private equity firm Blackstone Group LP, had hoped to sell. The pricing of the offering and boost to its size suggests that there was solid demand for the shares.

The first SeaWorld opened in San Diego in 1964. It was bought by beer giant Anheuser-Busch in 1989 and combined with the brewer's Busch Gardens park in Florida.

The company has grown to span 11 theme parks housing 67,000 animals. Besides the three SeaWorld parks, the company owns two Busch Gardens parks, several water parks and Sesame Place, an amusement park based on the children's TV show Sesame Street. It had net income of $77.4 million on revenue of $1.42 billion in 2012.

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