Uncertain economic times could affect VR earnings report | VailDaily.com

Uncertain economic times could affect VR earnings report

Cliff Thompson

Evidence from outside the company – most notably the town of Vail’s sales-tax collections for December showing a 10 percent increase – indicates solid retail performance and tourist numbers.

Like many tourism-dependent companies, the company’s stock is hitting the low tide mark, closing Thursday at $13.30, up 0.6 percent – less than half its initial public offering price of $22 in 1997. Last week, the stock traded at an all-time low of $11.81 before a market rally buoyed it to $12.28.

The second-quarter earnings follow a strong first quarter, in which the company paradoxically measured its success by the fact that it lost less than projected. A loss typically occurs in the first quarter, when ski resort operations await winter.

Vail Resorts last quarter lost $24.8 million, 17 cents a share better than anticipated, largely on the strength of strong real estate sales and stronger-than-projected lodging operations.

Vail Resorts operates Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone, Breckenridge and Heavenly ski resorts, 10 luxury RockResort hotels and numerous slopeside resort hotels, as well as the Grand Teton Lodge in Jackson, Wyo.

Lodging sales-tax revenues in Vail in December were up 4.8 percent, although for 2002 they were down 1 percent from 2001.

Good early and mid-season snow has boosted skier numbers. Many of them are Front Range Skiers who Vail Resorts attracted with aggressive ski- pass discounting. The company reported its pre-season discount ski pass sales were up 22 percent over the previous year.

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or cthompson@vaildaily.com

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