Lack of winter catching up to Vail Resorts

Vail Resorts curbed its expectations for the upcoming winter, despite reporting an uptick in early pass sales.

Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN) curbed its expectations for the upcoming winter, despite reporting an uptick in early pass sales.

The Colorado-based ski resort company, which operates Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone, Beaver Creek, Heavenly and Kirkwood, said pass sales for the upcoming 2012/12 season were up approximately 5 percent in units and 8 percent in dollars, compared to a year ago, adjusted as if its recently acquired Kirkwood were owned in both periods.

But those gains, which won’t be completely reported until the next two quarters, were slowing from earlier in the year as warm weather persisted, particularly in Colorado. Recent strong snow in Tahoe at Heavenly and Kirkwood could boost final early-season pass sales there. Meanwhile, Vail’s retail sales — it owns numerous retailers in its resort towns — have slipped, compared to strong preseason sales a year ago, officials said.

"In September, we issued guidance of 27-32 percent growth in Resort Reported EBITDA,” Vail CEO Robert Katz said in the Dec. 4 earnings release. “Based on some of the most recent booking trends we are currently seeing, we believe that it will be more difficult to achieve that guidance than we anticipated in September. We will know more about the season after the holidays and intend to address our fiscal 2013 guidance when we release our ski season metrics in mid-January."

For its fiscal first quarter, which doesn’t include any of those pass sales, Vail reported revenue essentially flat at $116.4 million. It’s quarterly net loss, widened to $60.6 million versus a quarterly net loss of $55.7 million a year ago. Since the quarter includes no winter revenue, it typically runs at a loss, officials said, and while summer visitation was up this past year, those lower retail sales, coupled with higher expenses, lead to the wider loss.

Similar to outdoor gear manufacturers, the lack of snow last winter might be catching up to Vail this winter.

A year ago, Vail’s season pass sales skyrocketed because of the excitement of strong snow the year prior. So, despite a poor snow season last year, Vail’s earnings remained strong as it leaned on those strong early pass sales.

This year, as SNEWS suggested back in March, the opposite may prove true with less excitement fueling season pass sales.

“The total growth of the program is slightly below our expectations,” Katz noted, “as we believe that the amount of sales that we pulled forward to earlier selling periods was somewhat larger than expected and that weather was still a concern for those purchasers who delayed their purchasing decisions.”

Investors sent Vail's stock down 10 percent by mid-day trading, Dec. 4, following the earnings report.

Still, officials remained upbeat, saying the complete picture won’t come until after the holiday season.

“We are very pleased with the results of our pass sales effort this year, particularly given the challenging weather last season and the record performance we had in passes last year,” Katz said.

--David Clucas



Lack of snow hurting retailers, resorts

A healthy start for wintersports retail in late fall is fading as a lack of December snow in the United States is expected to put a dent in business. SnowSports Industries America reported its latest figures of the market — sales between August and November 2011 — up 5 percent more


Vail Resorts sees 14.6 percent drop in skier visits, but season pass sales keeps revenue stable

There’s a reason Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN) sells its season passes in the spring, summer and fall. It’s insurance against a bad winter season such as this one. The Broomfield, Colo.-based owner of four ski resorts in that state and three in the Lake Tahoe Nevada/California region, more


Vail Resorts quarterly earnings down, but remains bullish for 2012

Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN) reported less revenue and a steeper loss for its fiscal 2011 fourth quarter, but ended the full fiscal year with higher revenue and profit and remained bullish for 2012. The Broomfield, Colo.-based ski resort company reported quarterly revenue of $108.7 more


Outdoor financials: Vail’s retail, resort spending up, but real estate lags; plus preseason wintersports sales rise

Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE:MTN) reported higher sales from its retail and rental operations along with a rise in resort sales such as lodging and dining, but a sharp drop in its real estate business led to lower revenue and a wider loss for the company’s fiscal 2012 first quarter, more


Outdoor financials: Vail Resorts’ profit jumps 34%, sales up 29% on increased visits

Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE: MTN) reported higher quarterly sales and profits on increased skier visits and revenue. The Broomfield, Colo.-based ski resort and real estate company, which operates four mountains in Colorado and two in Califronia, said its fiscal second-quarter 2011 more


Vail Resorts combats weak first half of winter with acquisitions, higher lift ticket prices

It took a while for the snow to fall, but when the flakes finally returned this holiday season, Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN) was able to profit in its fiscal second quarter 2013 (ended Jan. 31) with increased visitation, higher lift ticket prices and new acquisitions, despite lower more


Outdoor financials: Teva boosts strong Deckers 4Q earnings; Wintersports sales down at Head; Vail Resorts buying Kirkwood

Deckers Outdoor Corp. (Nasdaq:DECK) reported a jump in quarterly revenue and profit led by strong results from its Teva brand, plus gains from its Sanuk acquistion. The Goleta, Calif.-based footwear company reported its fourth-quarter 2011 revenue up 40 percent to a record more


Vail acquires Northstar-at-Tahoe for $63 million

In the continuing flurry of ski resort sales, a blockbuster dropped this week as Vail Resorts Inc. announced it has acquired Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort in North Lake Tahoe, Calif., for $63 million. Vail Resorts purchased the stock of the companies that operate Northstar-at-Tahoe more


Resort Report: Wildfires, Monarch, Bellayre, Vail & the Joplin tornado

A wildfire near the ski resort of Sipapu, N.M., was raging out of control, with zero containment at press time on Aug., 2, 2011. By noon the fire had grown to more than 1,200 acres, and a monastery in the region was evacuated, with more evacuations likely. New Mexico is off to more