Shares of Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN) surged to a near-three-year high Tuesday after the company said its first-quarter revenue tripled from a year ago, helped primarily by strong real estate gains and a solid start to the ski season.
Revenue for the ski resort operator was $234.42 million, up from $80.76 million a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $219.88 million.
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Sales were fueled by real estate, up to $149.3 million from $205,000 in the year-earlier period, due primarily to closings at the Ritz-Carlton Residences.
A 5.7% improvement in resorts revenue, which includes its mountain and lodging segments, also contributed, driven by stronger season pass sales.
“Our first fiscal quarter is a seasonally low earnings period and historically a loss quarter since our mountain resorts are not open for winter ski operations during the period,” Vail CEO Rob Katz said in a statement. “The quarter is driven primarily by our summer mountain and lodging operations, together with our administrative expenses for our year-round employees.”
The Broomfield, Colo-based company posted a net loss of $43 million, or $1.20 a share, compared with a loss of $41.17 million, or $1.14 a share, in the same quarter last year.
Earnings for the period ended Oct. 31, which reflect 100% ownership of Specialty Sports Venture, fell below average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $1.10 a share.
Late in the quarter, Vail closed on its $63 million acquisition of California-based Northstar-at-Tahoe, adding a sixth premier resort to its portfolio.
“We believe that Northstar-at-Tahoe will be a great addition to our company and build upon our leadership position in the Tahoe area,” Katz said. “Most important for our guests, we intend to continue to invest in the resort, further driving its premier position in the area, with terrain expansion, new lifts, new restaurants and new village amenities.”
Looking ahead, the company said it was optimistic about the current ski season, however noted it would be “premature” to make changes to its fiscal 2011 guidance.