Vail Resorts, Inc. reported a wider fiscal first quarter loss as total revenues fell 47.1% for the period ended Oct. 31 on the timing of various real estate transactions.  The profitability issues on the Real Estate business offset an improvement in the EBITDA loss in the combined Mountain and Lodging businesses.

Looking ahead, the company said it was maintaining its previously-reported guidance despite season pass sales to date that were up approximately 11% in units and approximately 9% in sales dollars as of Dec. 6 when compared to the year-ago period.

Season pass sales in the prior year represented 34% of eventual total lift ticket revenue, which leads management to believe the season pass sales performance “provides stability and good momentum heading into this ski season.”  However, the view is tempered by the fact that advance lodging bookings were down approximately 13% in room nights as of Nov. 30 compared to the same period last year. 


Still, company CEO Rob Katz still expects the booking trend for the full ski season to improve significantly from the booking status as of Nov. 30 since transient guests represented less than 50% of total bookings for last year’s season and the number of airplane seats booked into Eagle County Airport, which is the closest airport to the company’s Vail and Beaver Creek resorts, are up 4% versus the same time last year.
Vail reported that Mountain segment net revenue was $39.2 million for the fiscal first quarter, down 3.9% from $40.8 million in the fiscal first quarter of 2009. The company reported an EBITDA loss of $37.0 million in fiscal Q1 in the segment, compared to a loss of $39.4 million in the year-ago period.  Q1 bottom line results are historically negative as the company's ski resorts generally do not open for ski operations until the second fiscal quarter.

Lodging segment net revenue decreased 8.6% for the fiscal first quarter to $41.4 million, with a decrease in lodging net revenue partially offset by transportation revenue of $1.8 million due to the acquisition of CME on November 1, 2008. Excluding the impact of CME revenue, total lodging net revenue decreased 12.6% for the fiscal first quarter.
Retail and rental sales were down 4% to $21.5 million compared to $22.4 million last year. Golf revenues decreased 15.1%, for the first quarter, resulting from a 15% decrease in the number of golf rounds played combined with lower revenue per round. Other revenue decreased $1.1 million, or 11.5%, in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 compared to the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Total company net revenue was $80.8 million in the first quarter compared to $152.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.  The net loss attributable to Vail Resorts, Inc. was $41.2 million, or a loss of $1.14 per diluted share, in the fiscal first quarter, compared to a net loss of $34.5 million, or a loss of 93 cents per diluted share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

“Overall, our key early season metrics are indicating some optimistic signs with strong year-over-year season pass sales and improved airline bookings into Eagle County Airport,” said Katz in a statement. “However, our overall lodging bookings are showing mixed results with some periods and locations stronger, while most periods are down compared to the prior year, especially in Summit County.”

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