Skier visits expected to exceed two million this season 

Whistler Blackcomb sells more passes at start of season than ever before

Whistler Blackcomb sold more seasons' passes and frequency cards before the start of 2011 than ever before.

"We are pleased to report strong first quarter results with revenue growth in all resort segment categories," said Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Operating Officer for Whistler Blackcomb during the announcement of the second quarter results for the corporation this week (May 12).

"In addition, we have set a new record for Whistler Blackcomb with the highest ever number of season passes and frequency cards sold prior to December 31."

Brownlie said the he expects skier visits to exceed the two million mark this season and attributed the strong numbers to the focus on the strong pre-season campaign on regional and local skiers.

"...That resulted in a 28 per cent increase in local and regional skier visits," he said.

"As expected we are seeing a recovery in skier visits after the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games..."

Sales of season passes and frequency cards reached 104,000 units and $34 million to December 31, representing increases of 23 per cent in units and 33 per cent in sales over the comparable quarter in the prior year.

Brownlie admitted, however, that destination visitors numbers from international markets have not come back in the same numbers as seen before the global recession.

The financial results are for the period from November 9, 2010 to December 31, 2010.

On November 9, 2010, the corporation completed its initial public offering and concurrently acquired a 75 per cent interest in each of Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership and Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises Limited Partnership.

"Importantly, our dividend was set to allow for the variability in a number of factors, and given our business performance, we are confident that we will continue to maintain our current dividend," said Brownie.

For the period from November 9 to December 31, 2010 the corporation generated EBITDA of $15.2 million on revenues of $42.9 million. This resulted in $5.9 million of net earnings, or $0.16 per common share.

On January 12, 2011, the corporation declared a dividend of $0.14 per common share, representing a quarterly dividend of $0.24 per share pro-rated for the number of days from November 9 to December 31, 2010

Total revenue reached $46.8 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2010, an increase of 10.2 per cent over total revenue for the quarter ended December 31, 2009. This was primarily driven by increased skier visits and increased effective ticket prices.

Total operating expenses (resort segment operating expenses, selling, general and administrative and depreciation and amortization) were $45 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2010, compared to $38.3 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2009, an increase of 17.5 per cent, primarily driven by increases in depreciation and amortization expenses and increases in operating expenses.

Operating expenses increased by 11.1 per cent to $31.4 million for the three months ended December 31, 2010, compared to the three months ended December 31, 2009. This increase is primarily attributed to labour and benefit costs. The prior year costs included certain one-time recoveries related to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and the current year's first quarter's costs also reflect early season hiring returning to historical levels in anticipation of skier visits returning to normal levels.





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