Vail Resorts reports record profits |

Vail Resorts reports record profits

Edward Stoner
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL ” Vail Resorts said Thursday it is seeing more profits than ever.

The company reported $87.3 million in profits for the third quarter ” February, March and April ” up 11 percent from the same period in 2007 and a record for the quarter, which is generally the ski company’s most lucrative.

The company had $114 million in profits for the first nine months of its fiscal year, also a record.

“All of this growth was achieved on an organic basis at our existing resorts,” said CEO Rob Katz.

Broomfield-based Vail Resorts owns Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Heavenly. It also owns and operates hotels and resorts across the West and in the Caribbean. The results were released in the company’s quarterly conference call with Wall Street analysts.

Despite the record profits ” and this year’s record snow ” skier visits were down this year at Vail Mountain. The company’s flagship mountain had 1.57 million skier visits, dipping 2.4 percent from last year.

Beaver Creek, meanwhile, saw a 3.1 percent increase in visits to 918,000 for the season.

The Colorado mountains saw some of the best snow in decades. The Beav’ received 426 inches of snow this year, the most in its history, while Vail had 463 inches, its third-snowiest year.

With a weak dollar attracting tourists from around the world, the company reported a 26 percent increase in international visitors for the season. That helped offset the effects of a struggling domestic economy, Katz said.

Katz didn’t release statistics on sales of the Epic Pass, the new, discount, unlimited six-resort pass that’s selling for $579. But he did say sales are brisk.

“(Sales) are exceeding our expectations, but the bulk of our expectations for the sales are really in the fall,” he said.

The company’s real estate segment made $54.5 million in profits for the quarter, largely due to closings at the Arrabelle at Vail Square, the recently completed condo-hotel-retail complex in Lionshead.

Even as Vail Resorts reported record profits, the company fell short of analysts’ estimates for the quarter. Analysts expected earnings of $2.39 per share, according to the Associated Press. The quarter’s earnings, excluding stock-based compensation, came in at $2.28 per share.

Vail Resorts, trading as MTN on the New York Stock Exchange, was down $2.69, or 5.48 percent, to $46.41 at midday Thursday.

Information released in Vail Resorts’ quarterly conference call:

– Vail Resorts has sold only one condo at the Ritz-Carlton Vail, under construction in Lionshead, since last summer. Twenty-four of the 71 condos remain for sale.

– The company will make $30 million to $40 million off the Arrabelle at Vail Square in Lionshead.

– Sales at the under-construction Vail Mountain Club are “highly successful,” Katz said. To date, 383 memberships have been sold, and few available memberships remain. The club is set to open next winter.

– The company recouped $49.48 per skier visit last year. Single-day lift tickets topped out at $92.

– Season pass-holders skied an extra one-half day on average last winter compared to the previous year.

– Jeff Jones, the VR’s chief financial officer and senior executive vice president, has been named to the company’s board of directors.