Vail Resorts shares drop |

Vail Resorts shares drop

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

NEW YORK ” Shares of Vail Resorts Inc. fell sharply Friday after the ski resort operator reported lower visits in the early season.

Vail Resorts’ stock dropped $2.47, or 8.6 percent, to $26.13 in midday trading. The shares have traded between $14.79 and $53.27 during the past 52 weeks.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based company said room nights were down 14.8 percent as of Dec. 31 compared with the end of 2007.

Total skier visits at the company’s five mountain resorts fell 5.8 percent for the season-to-date period based on preliminary results. Lift ticket revenue booked a decline of 7.5 percent. Vail said the difference was due in part to increased visits from season pass holders.

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This year’s ski season began in November for Vail Resorts. The results were recorded through Jan. 4.

“As we expected, the current economic environment has certainly impacted the beginning of the 2008/2009 ski season with season-to-date skier visits down year over year,” said Chief Executive Rob Katz in a statement.

Katz noted, however, that the results have improved from the sharp 23.3 percent drop in bookings reported by the company as of Nov. 30, 2008. He said total skier visits actually gained year-over-year during the peak two-week holiday period ended Jan. 4.

Katz said the improved results confirm that many guests are booking their vacations closer to the date of travel, rather than forgoing a trip altogether.

Dining, retail and rental revenue fell in line with lift ticket declines, while ski school revenue booked a 20 percent drop, the CEO said.

“We believe the greater decline in ski school revenue was due to lower guest spending on certain higher priced items during their trip, a trend that was matched in lower check averages at certain of our fine-dine restaurants,” Katz said.

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