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SAM Magazine—Broomfield, Colo., Sept. 26, 2012—Vail Resorts reported net income of $16.5 million in fiscal 2012, down from $34.5 million in 2011. But in a sign that last season’s snow drought has not dampened customer expectations, season pass sales for the upcoming season rose 17 percent in units, to about 178,000, and 21 percent in dollars through Sept. 23. Historically, about 60 percent of VR pass sales are completed by this date.

For all of fiscal 2012, VR net mountain operations revenues rose 1.9 percent, to $766.6 million, even as visits declined 12.1 percent—from 7 million visits to 6.1 million. Including lodging, resort net revenues came to $977.2 million, an increase of 1.1 percent. Real estate net revenues raise the total net income to $1,024.4 million.

VR CEO Rob Katz credited several factors for mountain operations revenue growth. Season pass sales were up 13 percent in revenue, and a 9.3 percent rise in the effective price of non-season-pass tickets led to an overall increase ticket revenues. Total effective ticket price—lift revenue divided by visits—was up 13.8 percent, to $55.75. Other factors include marginal increases in spending on ski school and dining, and greater international visits.

Lodging occupancy was down, but the drop was mitigated by a 6.1 percent rise in average daily rate. Overall lodging revenues declined 1.9 percent, with net revenue totaling $210.6 million.

Katz noted that fourth quarter reported EBITDA rose, thanks to increased summer visits. Fourth quarter mountain net revenues rose 11.3 percent, to $46.4 million, compared to the same period of the prior year.

"Our balance sheet remains in a very strong position. In fiscal 2012, we generated $185.4 million of operating cash flow and ended the fiscal year with $46.1 million of cash on hand,” Katz said. “As of July 31, 2012, net debt was 2.3 times trailing twelve months total reported EBITDA, and we had no borrowings under the revolver component of our senior credit facility. Additionally, we have virtually no principal payments due on debt until 2019."

For 2012-13, Katz said pass sales have shown “particularly strong momentum in Tahoe, with the addition of Kirkwood and the Tahoe Local Pass, and in international markets.” He added, “While we believe that a portion of the significant increase in sales to date is due to some timing shifts, we hope to maintain the vast majority of these absolute gains through the rest of the selling period." He noted that lodging reservations are also above last year’s levels.

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