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第4册 - Unit 9, Section B - Not to Expect Profits Soon from Euro Disney

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The Euro Disney Corporation, acknowledging that its elaborate theme park had not performed as strongly as expected, announced Thursday that it would sustain a net financial loss of unpredictable scale in its first financial year.

At the time of the April opening of the park, which stands on a 4,800-acre site 30 kilometers (20 miles) east of Paris, Euro Disney officials said they expected to make a small profit for the financial year ending September 30. But since then the park has been hit by a number of problems.

'We were geared up for a very high level of operations,' John Forsgren, the company's chief financial officer said in a telephone interview. 'It has been very strong, but not as strong as we geared up for.'

'While attendance is very strong,' he said, 'our cost levels do require adjustment for the current revenue level.'

The parent company, Walt Disney Corporation, said Thursday that its income rose 33 percent in the quarter. But it warned investors against expecting profits soon from Euro Disney, of which it owns 49 percent.

Euro Disney said that although attendance levels had been high, 'the company anticipates that it will sustain a net loss for the financial year ending September 30, 1992'. It added that 'the amount of the loss will depend on attendance and hotel use rates achieved during the remaining portion of the critical European summer vacation period'. The announcement amounted to an extraordinary reversal for Euro Disney, which opened amid immense celebration and widespread predictions of immediate success.

At the time of the opening, on April 12, the company's shares were trading at 140.90 francs ($28.07), and had been as high as 170 francs earlier in the year. They dropped 2.75 percent Thursday to close at 97.25 francs. Mr. Forsgren said he thought the market had 'reacted a bit emotionally to preliminary information'. He added that 'by all objective standards the park is very successful. The long-term acceptance is strong, the rest is just details.'

The company said that 3.6 million people had visited the park from April 12 to July 22, a performance superior to that of comparable start-up periods at other Disney theme parks. But it warned that, given the likely strong seasonal variation in attendance, it was not possible to predict future attendance or profits.

Reacting to the announcement, stock market experts Paribas Capital Markets Group issued a 'sell' recommendation on Euro Disney stock, saying that attendance levels for the period were 15 percent below its expectations and spending on food and other goods was 10 percent below. It predicted that the company would lose 300 million francs in the current financial year and continue losing money for two more years.

The main problem confronting Euro Disney appears to be managing its costs and finding an appropriate price level for its over 5,000 hotel rooms. Clearly, costs have been geared to a revenue level that has not been achieved, and the company is beginning to drop hotel prices that have been widely described as excessive.

Mr. Forsgren said the number of staff, now at 17,000, would 'come down significantly in the next two months, mainly through the loss of seasonal employees'. Of the current staff, 5,000 are employed on a temporary basis, he said.

He also acknowledged that the lowest-priced rooms at the resort had been cut to 550 francs ($110) from 750 francs at the time of the opening, and that some rooms were being offered at 400 francs for the winter season. Analysts believe hotel use has been running at about 68 percent of capacity, although it is currently over 90 percent.

'The key issue is costs,' said one financial expert. 'They have no idea what their winter attendance levels will be and they're battling to get costs to an appropriate level. The stock's still too expensive, but I think in the long term they'll get it right.'

Still, huge doubt hangs over the company's plans to keep the theme park open through the cold European winter - something no other theme park in Europe has ever attempted. Last month, the company said it was having difficulty attracting people from the Paris region. Mr. Forsgren said that French attendance was improving and accounted for 1 million of the 3.6 million visitors, with most of the rest coming from Britain and Germany. Only 1 percent of visitors have been American.

For its third quarter ending June 30, the first in which the park had been operating, the company announced revenues of 2.47 billion francs ($492 million), but gave no profit or loss figures in line with the French practice of only giving such figures at year's end. In the first half, the company earned 75 million francs, mainly from investment income and sale of construction rights on its site.

欧洲迪斯尼公司承认,其精心建造的主题公园并未如预期般表现出色。该公司星期四称在首个财政年度里公司将蒙受难以预料的净亏损。

主题公园位于巴黎以东32公里(20 英里)处,占地4,800英亩。在它4月份开张时,欧洲迪斯尼行政人员说他们希望在9月30日结束的这个财政年度中能小有盈余。

但那以后,主题公园遇到了一些问题。

"我们已为充分的运作做好了准备,"公司的财务总监约翰?佛斯格伦在电话采访中说。

"运作是相当充分的,但尚未达到我们预期的程度。"

"尽管游客数量相当大,"他说,"可我们的成本支出的确需要根据当前的收益状况做出调整。"

它的母公司沃尔特?迪斯尼公司星期四说,欧洲迪斯尼的收入本季度上升了33%,

但它提醒投资者不要期待欧洲迪斯尼会很快赢利,该公司拥有欧洲迪斯尼49%的股份。

欧洲迪斯尼公司说尽管游客量一直相当大,"公司预计在1992年9月30日结束的财政年度里仍会有净亏损。"

还说"亏损的程度将取决于关键的欧洲夏季假期剩余日子里的游客量和宾馆入住率"。

这一宣布等于是说欧洲迪斯尼的情况出现了罕见的逆转。当初它是在一片欢呼声中开张,并被普遍看好会立即获得成功。

4月12日公司开张时,公司的股价为140.90法郎(28.07美元),今年年初曾高达170法郎。

本周四股价下跌了2.75%,收盘价为97.25法郎。

佛斯格伦先生说,他认为股票市场"对初期消息的反应有点情绪化了"。

他补充道,"从任何客观标准来看,该主题公园都是很成功的。公众对它的长期接受程度相当高,而其他情况只是枝节而已。"

公司说从4月12日至7月22日期间,有360万游客入园,这比其他迪斯尼主题公园在同样的开放初期的情况要强。

但公司也提醒说,考虑到游客量可能有相当大的季节性变化,无法对今后的游客量和收益做出预测。

对此番话,股票市场行家帕里巴斯资本市场集团发布了"出售"欧洲迪斯尼股票的建议,指出这一阶段的游客量比预期的低15%,食品及其他商品销售的利润比预期的低10%。

它预计欧洲迪斯尼公司在本财政年度会损失3亿法郎,并且还将继续亏损两年。

欧洲迪斯尼所面临的主要问题似乎是控制成本,并为它的5,000多间宾馆客房合理定价。

很明显,当初定成本所依据的收益水平并未达到,公司也正开始下调曾被普遍认为过高的宾馆房价。

佛斯格伦先生说员工人数现为17,000 人,"今后两个月内公司员工数量会显著下降,这主要是因为季节工的减少。"

他说,目前的员工中有5,000人是临时雇佣的。

他也承认,度假地的最低房价已从开张时的750法郎降为550法郎(110美元),一些房间的冬季价已降至400法郎。

分析家们认为,宾馆入住率一直约为全部接待能力的68%,尽管眼下超过了90%。

"关键的问题是成本,"一位财务专家说。

"他们不知道冬季的游客量会达到什么水平,他们正在努力使成本降到恰当的水平。

股价仍然过高,但我认为从长期来看,他们会使其恢复正常的。"

公司计划主题公园在欧洲寒冷的冬季仍然开门迎客,此举是否可行仍有很大的疑问──欧洲其他主题公园从未这样做过。

上个月,公司说现在已难以吸引巴黎地区的游客。

佛斯格伦先生说法国的游客量有所上升,占了360万游客中的100万,而其余的游客大部分来自英国和德国。

只有百分之一的游客是美国人。

6月30日结束的第三季度是主题公园正式运作的第一个季度。公司说这个季度的营业收入达24.7亿法郎(4.92亿美元)。但公司未提及利润或亏损数字。在年底才统计利润或亏损是法国的一贯做法。

在前半年里,公司共赢利7,500万法郎,主要是投资收入和出售公司地盘上的建筑权所得。

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