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Vail's pass sales boom after addition of Park City's Canyons

Published December 10, 2013 2:51 pm

Report • Sales of Epic Pass generate 16% more revenue over previous year.
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Vail Resort's season pass sales boomed this fall with Park City's Canyons Resort and two Midwestern ski markets entering the company's portfolio.

Sales of Vail's Epic Pass rose 13 percent in numbers sold, and generated 16 percent more revenue, compared to the previous year, the company said Monday in its earnings report for the quarter ending Oct. 31.

"This year's season pass sales represent the largest percentage increase in the program since the introduction of the Epic Pass in 2008," said Vail Resorts President and CEO Rob Katz.

Company officials previously said they sold more than 300,000 passes, which provide lift privileges at Vail's four resorts in Colorado, three around Lake Tahoe, Canyons outside of Park City and resorts in Minnesota, Michigan and Europe.

"We continue to see strong growth in our large Colorado and Tahoe markets and also showed good growth for our first year with a presence in Utah," Katz said, referring to the 50-year lease Vail signed this spring to operate Canyons for its owner, Talisker Corp.

"Pass sales in Minneapolis and Detroit represented our best performing destination markets," he added.

While season-pass sales help assure the company of revenues by getting customers to commit to "skiing and riding our resorts before the ski season begins," Katz said, that income is not registered on the company books until the next two quarters, which span winter.

As a result, Vail Resorts finished the fall quarter with a net loss of $73.4 million, or $2.04 per share, compared to a loss of $60.6 million, or $1.70 per share, in the same period of 2012.

Part of this year's additional loss included $7.6 million in costs associated with buying the Midwestern resorts and acquiring the Canyons lease. In turn, that loss included $2.7 million in "integration and litigation-related costs."

Vail Resorts has taken the lead role in a lawsuit with Park City Mountain Resort over the latter's allegedly lapsed lease to use 3,700 acres of mountainside owned by Talisker Corp.

Katz shrugged off that red ink, noting "our first fiscal quarter is historically a loss quarter since our mountain resorts are not open for winter ski operations."

Vail Resorts is not changing its projected annual earnings increase of 16 percent to 22 percent, he said. In January, the company also will issue a dividend of almost 21 cents per share of common stock.


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