* Seasonally expected loss from operations improved 16.8% or $6.2 million
* Net loss relatively flat to prior year — loss increased $289,000 or $0.01 per share
* Resort Reported EBITDA improved $2.5 million
* Real Estate Reported EBITDA improved $2.0 million
VAIL, Colo. — December 11, 2003 — Vail Resorts, Inc. (NYSE: MTN) announced today financial results for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 ending October 31, 2003. The Company historically used EBITDA when reporting its financial results for each of its reportable segments: mountain, lodging, resort (the combination of mountain and lodging) and real estate. In conjunction with the recently adopted Securities and Exchange rules regarding the use of non-GAAP financial measures, the Company currently uses the term “Reported EBITDA” when reporting financial results. The Company defines Reported EBITDA for the mountain, lodging and resort segments as segment net revenue less segment operating expense plus segment equity investment income. The Company defines Reported EBITDA for the real estate segment as segment net revenue less segment operating expense plus gain on transfer of property plus segment equity investment income.
FIRST QUARTER PERFORMANCE
Mountain revenue for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 was $34.1 million, a 1.3% increase from $33.6 million for the comparable period last year. Mountain expense decreased $2.7 million, or 4.2%, to $61.9 million.
Lodging revenue for the quarter grew $2.1 million, or 5.1%, to $42.7 million. Lodging expense increased $1.2 million, or 3.1%, to $40.5 million.
Resort revenue, the combination of mountain and lodging revenues, rose $2.5 million, or 3.4%, to $76.7 million. Resort expense decreased 1.5% to $102.4 million, down $1.5 million.
Real estate revenue for the quarter fell $12.5 million to $26.9 million, and real estate expense decreased $15.4 million to $12.1 million.
Total revenue declined $10.0 million, or 8.8%, to $103.6 million and total operating expense decreased $16.1 million, or 10.7%, to $134.0 million.
The expected seasonal loss from operations for the quarter improved $6.2 million, or 16.8%, to a loss of $30.4 million compared to a loss of $36.6 million for the same period last year.
Reported EBITDA for the mountain segment improved $2.1 million, or 7.0%, to negative $27.9 million compared to negative $29.9 million for the comparable period last year.
Reported EBITDA for the lodging segment increased from breakeven in the first quarter of last year to $0.4 million in the current year first quarter. The first quarter of fiscal 2004 includes $1.6 million of equity loss attributed to the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, which was open during the seasonally low occupancy period of the first quarter. Last year, in the first quarter of fiscal 2003, the equity loss attributed to the Ritz-Carlton was $1.3 million due to pre-opening and start-up expenses for the hotel. As the Company uses the equity method of accounting for the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, included in the fiscal 2004 first quarter loss is $0.6 million of depreciation and $0.6 million of interest expense.
First quarter Resort Reported EBITDA was negative $27.5 million, a $2.5 million or 8.3% improvement from negative $29.9 million for the comparable period last year.
Real Estate Reported EBITDA for the quarter rose $2.0 million to $16.9 million from $14.9 million in the same quarter a year ago. The current year’s first quarter includes a $1.9 million net gain from the transfer of property.
First quarter net loss increased $0.3 million, or 1.2%, to a loss of $25.4 million, or $0.72 per diluted share, compared to a loss of $25.1 million, or $0.71 per diluted share, for the same period last year.
Adam Aron, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are delighted to announce that Vail Resorts’ financial performance for the first quarter of fiscal 2004 was better than anticipated. While the net loss was sliightly higher than last year due to an expected increase in depreciation and interest expense, we are quite pleased with our Reported EBITDA results in this seasonally low profit quarter. Reported EBITDA for the mountain and lodging segments improved year-over-year through a combination of revenue growth and expense management. And the real estate division once again closed on a significant portion of its expected annual sales in the first quarter, giving it strong momentum towards hitting its target for the entire year.”
Aron added, “We have begun the implementation of our expense savings plan as seen in the decrease in year-over-year mountain expense. The lodging division has also begun to realize savings; however, expense reductions are somewhat masked by two factors. First, operations increased at the Vail Marriott, which was partially closed for renovation in the first quarter last year. Second, we saw stronger summer business at the Grand Teton Lodge Company which resulted in both increased revenue and expense for the quarter.”
Commenting on the current 2003-2004 ski season, Aron said, “We are pleased with the momentum we have going into the ski season. Our ski areas have received normal early season snowfall, and for the fifth year in a row we have had record season pass sales, with overall pass revenue for the five ski resorts up by about 20% year-over-year. While year-to-date revenue booked into our central reservation system is 2% ahead of last year at this time, air bookings into Vail’s Eagle County airport are actually up 7% compared to last season.”
Added Aron, “In addition to the season pass sales and bookings information we receive, we also track reservations for our ski school products. More encouraging is that advance reservations for our children’s ski school are currently tracking 22% ahead of last year at our Colorado resorts. These are just a few of the barometers we monitor to track how our season is shaping up. With the normal early season snowfall, record season pass sales, strong advance ski school reservations and solid bookings, we continue to be upbeat about this year’s ski season. Therefore, at this time, we are reiterating the year-end financial guidance we provided in November.”
Vail Resorts, Inc. is the premier mountain resort operator in North America. The Company’s subsidiaries operate the mountain resorts of Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone in Colorado, Heavenly Resort in California and Nevada and the Grand Teton Lodge Company in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. In addition, the Company’s RockResorts luxury resort hotel company operates 10 resort hotels throughout the United States. The Vail Resorts corporate website is www/vailresorts.com and the consumer websites are www/snow.com and www/rockresorts.com”. Vail Resorts, Inc. is a publicly held company traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: MTN).