Shares of mountain resort giant Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN) fell as much as 15.2% in trading Friday after the company announced weak results from the holiday season. Shares came off their 52-week low slightly but were still down 12.6% at 11:30 a.m. EST.
Season-to-date total lift ticket revenue was up 12.2% from a year ago, ski school revenue rose 9.5%, and dining revenue was up 14.8% on a 16.9% rise in the number of skiers. But management said that the preholiday season from December 1 to December 21 was lower than anticipated as poor conditions and weaker-than-expected short-term bookings hit the company.
Management also said that EBITDA for fiscal 2019 would be below the guidance given in September 2018. That guidance was for between $718 million and $750 million of EBITDA but assumed normal weather conditions.
Weather is always a risk factor for mountain resorts, and this year has once again been unusually warm. The good news is that Vail has transitioned its business to be focused on season-pass sales, which lock in season revenue before snowfall even starts. But if the warm weather continues in the mountains, we may see customers be a little less excited about buying a season pass in the coming years, which is the biggest long-term risk for the company.