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Outdoor financials: Vail’s retail, resort spending up, but real estate lags; plus preseason wintersports sales rise

Vail Resort's latest quarterly earnings and a Leisure Trends/SIA preseason wintersports report out this week both show higher retail sales for the industry as the 2011/12 begins.

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Vail Resorts Inc. (NYSE:MTN) reported higher sales from its retail and rental operations along with a rise in resort sales such as lodging and dining, but a sharp drop in its real estate business led to lower revenue and a wider loss for the company’s fiscal 2012 first quarter, ended Oct. 30, 2011.

The Broomfield, Colo.-based resort and real estate company, which owns and operates several resorts in Colorado, California and Nevada, reported its latest quarterly revenue down more than 50 percent versus a year ago to $116.4 million due to lower real estate sales. Vail’s quarterly net loss worsened to $55.7 million, or a loss of $1.54 per diluted share, versus a net loss of $43 million, or a loss of $1.20 per diluted share, during the same period a year ago.

Excluding real estate, Vail’s mountain and lodging revenue rose 12.4 percent to $103 million, boosted by a 22-percent increase in its retail and rental sales, and a rise in dining and lodging sales from its recent acquisition of Northstar.

Looking ahead to its fiscal 2012 second and third quarter, which will include season pass revenue, Vail officials said season pass sales are up 5 percent in units and 13 percent in dollars from a year ago, including Northstar in both periods.

In conjunction with the earnings release Dec. 7, 2011, Vail’s board of directors declared a regular quarterly cash dividend of $0.15 per share of common stock payable Jan. 6, 2012 to shareholders of record on Dec. 22, 2011

Wintersports sales start season up 14 percent

Preseason retail wintersports sales rose 14 percent in dollars and 7 percent in units to $644 million for the period between August and October 2011, according to the latest data from Leisure Trends Group and SnowSports Industries America.

While preseason sales traditionally include many discounted items from the previous season, last season’s strong spring snowfalls kept consumers buying, depleting most of that inventory. That led more consumers to buy wintersports gear at full price this year, officials said.

“Consumers began this season with uninterrupted enthusiasm for the coming La Niña repeat and it is definitely showing up in equipment sales,” SIA Director of Research Kelly Davis said in the report.

And it’s good news for wintersports specialty retailers, as they account for 70 percent of all retail wintersports equipment sales and almost 50 percent of wintersports retail sales overall, according to the data. Specialty shop preseason sales were up 19 percent in dollars and 12 percent in units.

Click here for more detail from the report on SNEWS.

–Compiled by David Clucas