Vail Resorts has interest in acquisitions, CEO says
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL – Vail Resorts Chief Executive Officer Rob Katz dodged specific questions about his company’s interest in buying the Whistler ski resort in British Columbia, but did say his company is in a strong position to make acquisitions.
“Our company has always had an interest in acquisitions and strategic growth and we still do,” Katz said during the company’s second quarter earnings call Wednesday.
Katz said Vail Resorts has discipline when looking at acquisitions and would only go after buying an asset if it made complete sense.
“We’re absolutely interested in doing something but won’t unless it’s justified by the asset and the economic environment,” Katz said.
The analyst asked about Whistler specifically after Katz’s comment and Katz declined to comment.
Katz said that every economic downturn presents similarities to “what we’re seeing today,” referring to those who own assets and don’t necessarily look to sell those assets if they’re underperforming – unless they’re forced to sell, they’ll hang on, Katz said.
The strength in the company’s resort business segment has led to strong free cash flow over the past year – not including real estate – despite the state of the economy, Katz said in the earnings call.
“Overall, our balance sheet position remains strong, even though we have been funding the investment in two real estate development projects under construction,” he said.
As of Jan. 31, 2010, Vail Resorts had cash and cash equivalents on hand of $58 million and has $308 million available for borrowing from a $400 million senior credit facility. The company also has almost no principal maturities due until 2014.
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