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

Increased visits, more season-pass revenue, higher lift-ticket prices and, of course, good snow lifted Vail Resort's fiscal second-quarter revenue and profit.

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 revenue, ending Jan. 31, 2011, rose 29 percent from a year ago to $388.1 million.

Vail’s quarterly profit rose 34 percent to $54.6 million, up from $40.7 million during its fiscal second quarter 2010.

Excluding its recently acquired Northstar-at-Tahoe resort in California, Vail’s mountains (Vail, Breckenrdige, Keystone, Beaver Creek and Heavenly) saw an 8.7 percent increase in skier visits during its fiscal second quarter, driven in large part by season pass holders, company officials said in the earnings release.

Total lift revenue, also excluding Northstar-at-Tahoe, increased by 8.2 percent, reflecting the increases in visitation as well as a 7.3 percent increase in season pass revenue and higher pricing on lift ticket products in 2011.

Guest spending also increased across Vail’s ancillary areas. Excluding Northstar-at-Tahoe, ski school revenue increased 11.7 percent, dining revenue rose 14.4 percent, and retail/rental was up 14.4 percent.

Vail’s lodging revenue increased 18 percent on a 6.3 percent increase in occupancy at its hotels and managed condominiums.

Vail’s real estate sales was the company’s only sector still lagging from the economic downturn, with revenue rising to $25 million, but still reporting a loss of $200,000 – although improved from a loss of $5.6 million during the same period a year ago.

Vail officials said quarterly operating expenses increased companywide by $17.2 million, or 11.2 percent from a year ago, due in part to higher labor costs and benefits as the company partially reinstated wages and 401(k) plans that had been reduced a year ago. Additionally labor costs grew with increased staffing demands in dining, retail and on the slopes from better-than-average early snowfalls, which drew crowds and opened more terrain sooner than expected.

Looking ahead, Vail officials said the company plans to make capital investments, including a new on-mountain fine dining restaurant at Vail, a new high speed quad Rose Bowl chairlift at Beaver Creek, new family programming at Keystone, multiple renovations at its lodging properties and several new retail stores. A “significant capital plan for Northstar-at-Tahoe” will include a new high speed lift serving expanded terrain and additional ski runs, a new 500-seat, on-mountain dining venue and enhancements to the base village area. (Click here to read more from SNEWS about all the capital improvments being proposed at resorts in Tahoe).

--Compiled by David Clucas

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