Intrawest second quarter results up despite Sept. 11 

Intrawest increased its revenue in the second quarter by 12 per cent despite concerns about the travel industry,

"As expected, bookings from the United States fell off after Sept.11, but they have come back to a point where if not normal, we are pretty close to normal," said Joe Houssian, Intrawest’s chief executive.

For the period ending Dec 31, Intrawest had earnings of US$5.9 million, on revenue of US$231.4 million.

"Contrary to some expectations, the weak North American economy and the events of Sept. 11 have not had a dramatic impact on our business," Houssian said this week.

Revenue and total company EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, non-controlling interest, depreciation and amortization) for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2001 were $325.1 million and $47.2 million, respectively, compared with $336.9 million and $50.3 million, respectively, in the same period last year.

Intrawest owns 10 mountain resorts across North America, including Whistler-Blackcomb.

Ski and resort operation revenue was $87.5 million in the second quarter, down from $94.3 million in the same quarter of fiscal 2001 due to late season openings at the eastern resorts caused by unusually warm weather conditions in November and December.

But tight control over costs, and the delayed hiring of seasonal staff as planned, reduced the impact on earnings of the late start to the season in the East and changes in leisure travel patterns following Sept. 11.

"Solid results at our western resorts tempered the effects of the slow start to the season at our eastern resorts," said Daniel Jarvis, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

"Our performance during these exceptionally challenging times reflects the success of our early cost-control measures and the strength of our resort network."

Whistler-Blackcomb were not fully staffed until Dec. 20 last year in a move euphemistically called "resort maximization."

Normally, the resort would have been staffed by the end of November, but company officials decided to hold off hiring to offset costs and put resources in the periods where the company makes the most money. Staff levels were at least 10 per cent below last year’s levels.

Intrawest was concerned about Whistler-Blackcomb’s ability to weather the economic downturn and travel drop off due to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as the resort, more than any other Intrawest property, relies on visitors who fly into Vancouver.

Up to 85 per cent of the travellers to other Intrawest resorts arrive by car.

Although the tourism market has mostly recovered from Sept. 11 other costs are still being affected.

Intrawest is having to pay substantially more for insurance than previously, for example.

Real estate sales remained strong for the company with revenues at US$141 million for the second quarter, an increase of 27 per cent from US$110.8 million reported in the same quarter last year.

Intrawest closed 450 units during the quarter compared with 343 in the same quarter last year. Real estate profit was US$21.1 million compared with US$14.7 million in the same period last year.

Resort Club sales in the quarter were US$7.2 million, six per cent more than the second quarter last year.

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