VR beats street; CEO touts Breck
AVON – Great early season snows clearly boosted Vail Resorts’ bottom line in the fiscal third quarter, and it was Breckenridge that showed the biggest gains of the five resorts operated by the company.”Breckenridge by far had the biggest increases of any of our ski resorts,” said freshman CEO Robert Katz.Higher skier visits at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and Keystone reflected a 4.4 percent increase in skier visits for the quarter and 6 percent for the season, while ticket prices were up 10 percent for the quarter and 6.5 percent for the season.Those increases helped Vail Resorts beat Wall Street expectations in their Wednesday report. The company said it expects to report net income of $42 million to $48 million for the full fiscal year, up from a December estimate of $34 million to $43 million.Breckenridge, however, stood out in terms of growth. For the past nine months ended April 30, skier visits were up a juicy 10.1 percent over last year. And even over just the past three months, when snows tapered off to average levels, skier visits were up a full 8.7 percent at Breck.”What it says is that Breckenridge is really driving forward. With a lot of the capital that we’ve put into the resort in terms of new lifts and other things – certainly for next year with the new gondola and the Peaks of Breckenridge development – I think that Breckenridge will become more and more of an important contributor to our overall success,” Katz said.Things are really moving in terms of new amenities and development at Breckenridge, and the momentum should continue into next season. Work has already begun on a new state-of-the-art gondola at the resort, and the complementary Peaks of Breckenridge development is moving forward toward a Christmas 2006 launch of sales there. That not coincidentally is around the time that the gondola is set to make its debut.New this past season, too, was the introduction of the Imperial Express SuperChair, which whisked skiers to new heights for access to acres of new terrain.”I think the with Imperial Express, even next year we’ll see some additional visitation because people who skied Imperial this past year are going to tell their friends and they’ll come back,” Katz said.A ski enthusiast in his own right, Katz personally inspected the new lift and called it “just amazing.” He added: “It’s fantastic terrain and a terrific experience that most people wouldn’t have associated with Breckenridge in the past.”Vail Resorts recently announced that the company would move its headquarters from Eagle County down to the Front Range – a migration Katz expected to be completed by late summer 2007.While commenting on the import of the two Summit County resorts to the company on the whole (he called Breckenridge and Keystone “critical”), Katz thought the headquarters move might have some ancillary effects on our resorts within the company.”One of the benefits of the corporate move is that it’ll give the corporate executives – including myself – a broader perspective that we have four Colorado resorts, not just two,” he said.Duffy Hayes can be reached at (970) 668-4621, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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