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Vail Resorts Reports Fiscal 2018 Third Quarter Results and Early Season Pass Sales Results
Vail Resorts, Inc. reported results for its third quarter ended April 30, 2018, as well as the Company's results of its early season pass sales for the 2018/2019 North American ski season.
Commenting on the Company's fiscal 2018 third quarter results, Rob Katz, chief executive officer said, "We are pleased with our performance in the quarter and for the full 2017/2018 North American ski season, particularly given the challenging weather conditions across the western U.S. for much of the season. Our performance demonstrates the resiliency of our business model, the stability provided by our geographically diverse resort network and the importance of increased advanced purchase products, including our season passes. Our improved results in the third fiscal quarter also underscore the strength of the high-end consumer's demand for ski vacations once conditions improved across our network.
"Mountain revenue increased 7.1% for the third fiscal quarter compared to the same period in the prior year, with lift revenue growing 7.9%, primarily as a result of strong season pass sales for the 2017/2018 North American ski season and the inclusion of Stowe, which was partially offset by lower non-pass lift revenue at our western U.S. resorts. Total visitation, including Stowe, grew 6.4% for the third fiscal quarter compared to the prior year period. Whistler Blackcomb experienced excellent conditions and achieved another season of record results. As conditions improved across the western U.S. in the second half of the ski season, overall skier visits rebounded sharply despite total snowfall remaining significantly below the long-term average at many of our western U.S. resorts."
Katz continued, "With our winter season behind us, we are pleased that our year-to-date results delivered growth over the prior year despite the very challenging conditions in the first half of the season. We believe this highlights the continued success of our season pass and guest-focused marketing efforts, the importance of geographic diversification in our resort network and the outstanding experience we provide at our resorts. We also continue to benefit from our improved ability to target and personalize our marketing messages to guests, resulting from the significant investments we have made in data capture and data-driven marketing capabilities over the past several years."
Regarding Lodging, Katz said, "Our lodging results for the third fiscal quarter were relatively flat as compared to the prior year period, with Lodging revenue (excluding payroll cost reimbursements) declining 0.2%." Katz continued, "Resort Reported EBITDA was $419.7 million for the fiscal quarter, an increase of 7.1% over the same period in the prior year. Resort EBITDA margin for the quarter was 49.9%, an increase of 30 basis points over the same period in the prior year."
Regarding Real Estate, Katz said, "During the third fiscal quarter, we closed on the sale of a development land parcel for $3.0 million. Real Estate EBITDA for the quarter also includes the recognition of a legal settlement totaling $5.5 million. The cash proceeds related to this legal settlement were received in a prior fiscal year."
Regarding the Company's outlook, Katz said, "Given our performance to date this year, we expect that our fiscal 2018 Resort Reported EBITDA will finish the year between $612 million and $622 million, an increase of 3.1% to 4.8% compared to the prior year. Our fiscal 2018 Resort Reported EBITDA guidance includes an estimated $10.2 million of acquisition and integration related expenses."
Katz continued, "Our balance sheet remains strong and the business continues to generate robust cash flow. We ended the quarter with $181.6 million of cash on hand and our Net Debt was 1.5 times trailing twelve months Total Reported EBITDA, which includes our outstanding debt of $1.1 billion as of April 30, 2018. I am also very pleased to announce that our Board of Directors has declared a quarterly cash dividend on Vail Resorts' common stock. The quarterly dividend will be $1.47 per share of common stock and will be payable on July 12, 2018, to shareholders of record on June 27, 2018. Additionally, the Company repurchased $25.8 million of stock during the quarter at an average price of $223.51."
As previously announced on June 4, 2018, the Company entered into an agreement to purchase Triple Peaks, LLC, the parent company of Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont, Mount Sunapee Resort in New Hampshire, and Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado. The Company will acquire Triple Peaks, LLC from the Mueller family for a cash purchase price of $82 million, subject to certain adjustments at closing, and will simultaneously pay $155 million to pay off the leases that all three resorts have with Ski Resort Holdings, LLC, an affiliate of Oz Real Estate. In a separate transaction, Vail Resorts also entered into an agreement to purchase Stevens Pass Resort in Washington State from Ski Resort Holdings, LLC for a cash purchase price of $67 million, subject to certain adjustments. The transactions are expected to close this summer, subject to receipt of new Special Use Permits from the U.S. Forest Service for Crested Butte Mountain Resort and Stevens Pass Resort, as well as administrative review and consent from the States of Vermont and New Hampshire. The acquisitions are collectively expected to generate incremental annual EBITDA in excess of $35 million in Vail Resorts' fiscal year ending July 31, 2019.
Subsequent to the closing of the two transactions, Vail Resorts plans to invest $35 million over the following two years, incremental to our normal rate of capital expenditures, to continue to elevate the guest experience across the four resorts. In addition, annual ongoing capital expenditures are expected to increase in the aggregate by $7 million to support the addition of these four resorts.
A more complete discussion of our operating results can be found within the Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations section of the Company's Form 10-Q for the third fiscal quarter ended April 30, 2018, which was filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The following are segment highlights, all of which is as of, or for the three month period ended April 30, 2018, as compared to the three month period ended April 30, 2017, unless otherwise noted:
Resort - Combination of Mountain and Lodging Segments
Real Estate Segment
Return of Capital
The Company declared a quarterly cash dividend of $1.47 per share of Vail Resorts common stock that will be payable on July 12, 2018, to shareholders of record on June 27, 2018. Additionally, a Canadian dollar equivalent dividend on the exchangeable shares of Whistler Blackcomb will be payable on July 12, 2018, to exchangeable shareholders of record on June 27, 2018. The exchangeable shares were issued to certain Canadian persons in connection with our acquisition of Whistler Blackcomb. In the third quarter of fiscal 2018, the Company repurchased 115,422 shares at an average price of $223.51 for a total of $25.8 million.
Season Pass Sales
Commenting on the Company's season pass sales for the upcoming 2018/2019 North American ski season, Katz said, "We are very pleased with the results for our season pass sales to date. Excluding sales of our Military Epic pass products, pass sales through May 29, 2018 for the upcoming 2018/2019 North American ski season increased approximately 12% in units and approximately 19% in sales dollars, as compared to the prior year period through May 30, 2017. Our spring pass sales included strong growth across nearly all markets, with continued strong performance among our destination guests in the U.S. and internationally. We had particularly strong pass sales in Whistler Blackcomb's regional market, with solid growth in Colorado and Tahoe, despite the challenging conditions experienced throughout the season in those regions. As a result of the strength of our network and the new resort partnerships we entered into, our premium Epic Pass has been the fastest growing product among all of our pass products this year. In addition to all of these results, we also saw very strong sales of our new Military Epic Pass, with huge enthusiasm and engagement from current and past members of the armed forces. We saw significant Military Epic Pass sales to new guests, as well as to guests who had previously purchased one of our season pass products. We are still in the processes of verifying our new Military Epic Pass sales and will be releasing additional information on those results in the fall. Whistler Blackcomb pass products are included in both current and prior year, adjusted to eliminate the impact of foreign currency by applying current period exchange rates to the prior period. It is important to note that a portion of our spring growth includes passholders who purchased 2017/18 North American ski season passes last fall."
Regarding Epic Australia Pass sales, Katz commented, "Perisher's 2018 ski season kicks off this weekend and we are very pleased with ongoing sales of the Epic Australia Pass, which end on June 12, 2018, and are up 19% in units through June 3, 2018, as compared to the prior year period through June 4, 2017. Epic Australia Pass sales have benefited from the addition of Hakuba Valley in Japan under a long-term pass alliance, which is an extremely popular option with Australian skiers and snowboarders."
North American Summer Business
Commenting on North American summer business, Katz said, "With the ski season behind us we are very excited to welcome summer visitors to our resorts, including Whistler Blackcomb, which has a full calendar of incredible events and some of the best mountain biking on the planet. At Vail, Heavenly and Breckenridge, Epic Discovery summer operations will begin in the coming weeks. Our Epic Discovery guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a great lineup of activities for the whole family, including experiential learning exhibits in a high alpine environment, ropes courses, zip lines, summer tubing and alpine coasters, including the return of the mountain coaster at Heavenly."