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Vail Resorts Reports Strong Pass Sales

Vail Resorts reported third-quarter gains compared to the prior year’s quarter, with both quarters heavily influenced by different Covid limitations and restrictions. Vail Resorts (VR) also reported strong early season pass sales for the 2021-22 North American ski season, and provided its outlook for the fiscal year ending July 31, 2021.

Net income was $274.6 million for the third fiscal quarter of 2021, an increase of 80 percent compared to the third fiscal quarter of 2020, when the company shuttered most of its resort on March 15. Resort reported EBITDA was $462.2 million for the third fiscal quarter of 2021, compared to $304.4 million for the third fiscal quarter of 2020.

VR expects resort reported EBITDA for the full fiscal year 2021 to be between $530 million and $570 million, assuming all operations are open and aligned with current health and safety protocols and capacity restrictions and normal weather conditions throughout the Australian ski season and North American summer season.

While those figures show improvement from the prior year, they do not rise quite to the level of fiscal 2019, before the pandemic hit. For fiscal 2019, VR reported net income of $292.1 million for the third quarter, and saw EBITDA of $707 million for the full year. Note that VR had not yet purchased Peak Resorts in fiscal 2019, and that reduces the value of comparisons between fiscal 2021 and fiscal 2019.

VR recorded 14.2 million visits in 2020-21, same as in 2018-19, when VR did not own Peak Resorts. In 2019-20, the pandemic shutdown limited VR to 13.3 million visits.

Pass sales for 2021-22: strong. Following VR’s 20 percent cut in prices for its Epic Pass products, pass sales rose significantly. Through June 2, sales were up 50 percent in units and 33 percent in dollars compared to 2019, the last year for normal sales. In 2020, with no early pass sales deadlines during the early months of the pandemic, most customers delayed their purchases to the fall. (Of note: pass sales as of Dec. 6, 2020, were up 20 percent in units and dollars compared to the prior year sales through Dec. 8, 2019.)

VR reported that pass sales increased most, relative to 2019, among new passholders—people who had previously bought tickets, not passes. The company also believes that the price reduction has encouraged some passholders to upgrade from lower-priced products to higher-priced ones.

Commenting on VR’s fiscal 2021 third quarter results, CEO Rob Katz said, “Results continued to improve as the season progressed, primarily as a result of stronger destination visitation at our Colorado and Utah resorts.

“Excluding Peak Resorts, total visitation at our U.S. destination mountain resorts and regional ski areas for the third quarter was only down 3 percent compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2019 [VR purchased Peak Resorts during fiscal 2020]. Whistler Blackcomb’s performance continued to be negatively impacted due to the continued closure of the Canadian border to international guests, including guests from the U.S., and was further impacted by the resort closing earlier than expected on March 30, 2021 following a provincial health order issued by the government of British Columbia. Whistler Blackcomb’s total visitation for the third quarter declined nearly 60 percent compared to the third quarter of fiscal 2019.

“While visitation and lift revenue trends improved throughout the quarter, our ancillary lines of business continued to be more significantly and negatively impacted by COVID-19 related capacity constraints and limitations, particularly in food and beverage and ski school.”

For the quarter, total lift revenue increased $202.9 million, or 54.2 percent, compared to the same period in the prior year, to $577.7 million. Ski school revenue increased just $3.8 million, or 5 percent, and retail/rental revenue increased $13.2 million, or 16.8 percent. Dining revenue decreased $16.3 million, or 26.5 percent, compared to the same period in the prior year, as dining saw the greatest impact from capacity-related limitations and restrictions.

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