Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. Announces Record First Quarter Results and Strong Mid-season Indicators

WHISTLER, BC, Feb. 10, 2016 /CNW/ - Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. (TSX: WB) (the "Company") today reported record financial results for the first quarter ended December 31, 2015 and announced strong mid-season indicators as of February 8, 2016.  The Company holds a 75% interest in and manages the entities that operate Whistler Blackcomb, the largest four-season mountain resort in North America.

Highlights  

  • Strong revenue growth in all of the Company's ancillary businesses combined with disciplined cost management contributed to record first quarter Adjusted EBITDA of $17.2 million, representing a 68% increase over the first quarter last year.
  • Solid mid-season indicators as at February 8, 2016 compared to the same time last year. Total visits for the year to February 8, 2016 were 1.14 million, representing the highest year to date visits in the Company's history and an increase of 21% over visits to the same date in prior year. Season pass and frequency cards sales as at February 8, 2016 increased 4% to $46.2 million.
  • Planned investment of $8 million in growth projects in Whistler designed to grow EBITDA, improve guest experience and enhance the Company's weather resiliency.

Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company commented: "We are very pleased with our first quarter performance.  Increased guest visitation from both our regional and destination markets combined with strong spending in our ancillary businesses contributed to our record financial results.  Since December 31, 2015, our strong visitation momentum has continued and I am pleased to report that we have welcomed the highest total visits in our history for the year to date period." Mr. Brownlie continued:  "Looking ahead, we are positioned well for the remainder of the ski season as both season pass and frequency card sales and hotel room bookings are pacing ahead of the same time last year."

Regarding the planned $8 million in growth projects, Mr. Brownlie commented: "The growth projects that we have announced today highlight our continued focus on our long-term strategy of upgrading and expanding our on-mountain facilities and infrastructure, expanding our non-ski business and executing on other strategic investments." 

Financial & Operating Results Overview
(In thousands, except Effective Ticket Price ("ETP") and per visit amounts)



Three Months ended
December 31,




2015


2014

% Change

Visit Metrics






Skier visits


502


407

23.3%

Other visits


42


34

23.5%

Total visits


544


441

23.4%







Pricing Metrics






ETP

$

56.70

$

56.48

0.4%

Revenue per total visit

$

122.59

$

123.90

(1.1%)







Financial Results






Total revenue

$

66,687

$

54,638

22.1%

Operating expenses, excluding depreciation and amortization


(39,509)


(34,732)

13.8%

Selling, general and administrative


(9,942)


(9,659)

2.9%

Adjusted EBITDA

$

17,236

$

10,247

68.2%

Visit, Pricing and Financial Results Summary

  • The increase in skier visits for the three months ended December 31, 2015 was attributable to improved visitation over the Christmas holiday period and strong early season momentum. Destination skier visits comprised approximately 33% of skier visits for the first quarter of fiscal 2016, compared to 38% during the comparative quarter last year.
  • The small decrease in revenue per visit for the first quarter reflected lower spending per visit in the Company's retail, rental and snow school businesses principally as a result of the strong growth in regional visitation, as regional guests typically spend less on a per visit basis than destination guests. ETP increased slightly due to increased lift ticket prices on destination products, offset by higher utilization of season pass and frequency card products attributable to strong regional market visitation.
  • The significant increase in Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter ended December 31, 2015 was driven primarily by higher total visits, as described above, offset partially by higher labour, and retail and food and beverage cost of sales compared to the first quarter last year as a result of increased business volumes.

Treasury Summary

  • As at December 31, 2015, the Company had long-term debt outstanding of $230.5 million, a decrease of $4.0 million, or 2%, compared to $234.5 million at September 30, 2015. The Company's cash and cash equivalents balance at December 31, 2015 was $18.7 million compared to $5.7 million at September 30, 2015.
  • Cash interest paid during the quarter ended December 31, 2015 decreased by 6% to $2.2 million from $2.3 million in the prior year due to a lower interest rate on the Company's debt outstanding compared to the prior period.

Mid-Season Indicators

  • Total visits for the 2015-16 season to February 8, 2016 were 1.14 million, an increase of 21% over visits to the same date last year and representing the highest year to date visits in the Company's history. Total visits to date comprised 1.09 million skier visits and 59,000 other visits compared to 900,000 and 46,000, respectively, in the prior year to date period. Management estimated that total skier visits to date were comprised of approximately 58% regional guests and 42% destination guests compared to 56% and 44%, respectively, in the comparative period last year.
  • As at February 8, 2016, the Company's 2015-16 season pass and frequency card sales were $46.2 million, an increase of 4% over season pass and frequency card sales at the same time in the prior year.
  • Estimated forward hotel bookings over the remainder of the ski season in Whistler's accommodation sector as at February 8, 2016 were pacing approximately 11% ahead of bookings at the same time in the prior year.

Capital Investments

The Company also announced plans to invest approximately $8.0 million in the following growth projects, in addition to the Company's regular maintenance capital program:

  • Upgrades to and expansion of the Company's facilities at the Garibaldi Lift Company restaurant and the Roundhouse Lodge restaurant on Whistler Mountain.
  • Upgrades and enhancements to ski and snowboard learning terrain and infrastructure on Whistler Mountain.
  • Adding summer hiking trails and infrastructure and constructing a new glacier-view sightseeing deck connected to the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain.

All of these investments are designed to grow EBITDA, improve guest experience and enhance the weather resiliency of the Company's business.  The Company expects that these projects will be completed by the start of the 2016-17 ski season.

Dividend

The Company's Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.24375 per common share for the first quarter, to be paid on February 29, 2016 to shareholders of record on February 22, 2016.  This dividend will be an eligible dividend for Canadian income tax purposes.

Non-GAAP Measures

This press release makes reference to Adjusted EBITDA and ETP, which are measures not prescribed by Canadian generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. These non-GAAP measures do not have standardized meanings and are therefore unlikely to be comparable to similar measures presented by other companies.

Adjusted EBITDA is defined as consolidated net earnings (including net earnings attributable to the 25% non-controlling interest) before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, as well as items that management does not consider part of the Company's normal operations, examples of which include significant non-cash gains or losses on disposal of property, buildings and equipment, acquisition or disposal expenses and gains or losses or restructuring expenses relating to acquisitions or disposals of businesses, impairment, restructuring or refinancing charges and reversals and other significant event-driven amounts as applicable. Adjusted EBITDA is provided as additional information to complement GAAP measures and to further understand the Company's results of operations from management's perspective. It is also a supplemental measure of performance that highlights trends in the Company's business that may not otherwise be apparent when relying solely on GAAP financial measures. Seventy-five percent of Adjusted EBITDA is attributable to WBHI shareholders, based on the Company's equity interest in the Partnerships. The closest GAAP measure is net earnings and a reconciliation is provided below.

ETP is defined as the Company's ski ticket yield-per-skier visit calculated as total ski-related lift revenue divided by total skier visits. Ski-related lift revenue and skier visits exclude revenue and visits from summer glacier skiing and other revenue amounts. The Company believes ETP is an important measure of operating performance because it allows management, investors and others to evaluate and compare the yield generated by ski lift tickets from period to period, and ski tickets are the Company's largest source of revenue and the core of its operations. The closest GAAP measure is revenue and a reconciliation is provided below. 

Non-GAAP measures should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for analysis of financial information reported in accordance with GAAP. Readers should refer to the Company's annual information form dated December 11, 2015 and its most recent Management's Discussion & Analysis, which are available on the Company's website and under the Company's SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com, for additional details regarding non-GAAP measures.

Reconciliation of Net Earnings (Loss) to Adjusted EBITDA

The following table reconciles Adjusted EBITDA to the Company's most directly comparable GAAP measure, net earnings (loss):

 (In thousands) 


Three months ended

December 31, 2015

Three months ended
December 31, 2014




Net earnings (loss)

$

 

1,223

$

(4,573)

Depreciation and amortization

10,481

10,329

Finance expense, long term debt

2,171

3,026

Finance expense, Limited Partner's interest

2,300

2,252

Income tax expense (benefit)

945

(573)

EBITDA

$

17,120

$

10,461

Other income

-

(214)

Other expenses

116

-

Adjusted EBITDA

$

17,236

$

10,247





The following table reconciles ETP to our most directly comparable GAAP measure, revenue:

(In thousands) 

Three months ended

December 31, 2015

Three months ended
December 31, 2014




Revenue

$

66,687

$

54,638

Less: Non-ski lift revenue

(38,225)

(31,650)

Total ski lift revenue

28,462

22,988

Divided by: Total skier visits

502

407

Effective Ticket Price

$

56.70

$

56.48

Conference Call Information

Management will conduct a conference call on February 10, 2016 at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time to review the Company's fiscal 2016 first quarter results. The call can be accessed by dialing 1.800.319.4610 (Canada and US) or 1.604.638.5340 (International) prior to the start of the call. A live webcast and 30 day replay of the conference call will be available in the Presentation & Webcasts section of the Company's website.

ABOUT WHISTLER BLACKCOMB HOLDINGS INC.

The Company holds a 75% interest in each of Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership and Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises Limited Partnership (the "Partnerships"), which, together, carry on the four season mountain resort business located in the Resort Municipality of Whistler, British Columbia (the "Resort Business"). The Company is the operating general partner of the Partnerships and as such manages the Resort Business. Whistler Blackcomb, the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, is situated in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, 125 kilometres (78 miles) north of Vancouver, British Columbia. North America's largest four-season mountain resort, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain are two side-by-side mountains, connected by the world record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which combined offer over 200 marked runs, over 8,000 acres of terrain, 14 alpine bowls, three glaciers, receive on average over 1,163 centimetres (458 inches) of snow annually, and offer one of the longest ski seasons in North America. In the summer, Whistler Blackcomb offers a variety of activities, including hiking and biking trails, the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, and sightseeing on the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "WB".  Additional information is available on the Company's website at www.whistlerblackcomb.com/holdings or under the Company's SEDAR profile at www.sedar.com.

CAUTIONARY NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS

This press release and the associated conference call and webcast, which include a business update, first quarter results and a question and answer session, may contain certain forward-looking statements or information, within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities laws, which reflect the current view of the Company with respect to future events and financial performance. Forward-looking statements can often be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "may", "will", "would", "could", "should", "expect", "intend", "estimate", "anticipate", "plan", "foresee", "believe" or "continue" or the negatives of such terms or variations of them or similar terminology. All forward-looking statements made by the Company are based on the opinions and estimates of management as of the date such statements are made and represent management's best judgment based on facts and assumptions that management considers reasonable. The forward-looking statements and information contained in this press release and the associated conference call and webcast are based on certain factors and assumptions made by management of the Company including, but not limited to: business conditions, guest visitation, the Company benefiting from capital investments, visit momentum and encouraging 2015-16 season pass and frequency card sales and accommodation bookings, weather, macroeconomic and currency influences, and interest rates, among others. These forward-looking statements and information are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those anticipated including, but not limited to, unfavourable weather conditions, unfavorable economic conditions, decreases in leisure and business travel, seasonality of operations, capital expenditures, currency fluctuations, reliance on agreements with the Province of British Columbia to operate the Resort Business, competition from other resorts, dependence on key employees and seasonal workforce, workforce risks, the impact of natural disasters, risks related to the credit facility and interest rate risks, adequacy of insurance coverage, litigation or governmental investigations, safety and accident risks, environmental laws and regulations, risks related to privacy laws, information technology and the processing of credit card information, negative publicity or unauthorized use of the Company's trademarks or trade names, risks relating to growth projects and acquisitions, risks relating to third party interests and risks relating to an investment in the common shares of the Company, including with regard to dividend payments and future sales or issuances of common shares of the Company.  A more detailed description of these risks is available in the Company's most recently filed annual information form and management's discussion and analysis, which is available on the Company's website and at www.sedar.com under the Company's SEDAR profile.

Should one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or should assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements or information prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described herein. Although the Company believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements and information are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on forward-looking statements or information because the Company can give no assurance that such expectations will prove to be correct. 

These forward-looking statements and information are made as of the date of this press release, and the Company has no intention and assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements or information to reflect new events or circumstances, except as required by applicable Canadian securities laws.

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.
Condensed Interim Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income
(Unaudited, in thousands, except per share amounts)



Three Months ended
December 31, 2015

Three Months ended
December 31, 2014









Resort Revenue


$

66,687

$

54,638





Operating expenses


39,509

34,732

Depreciation and amortization


10,481

10,329

Selling, general and administrative


9,942

9,659



59,932

54,720





Earnings (loss) from operations


6,755

(82)





Other income


-

213

Other expense


(116)

-

Finance expense, long term debt


(2,171)

(3,026)

Finance expense, Limited Partner's interest


(2,300)

(2,252)





Net earnings (loss) before income tax


2,168

(5,147)





Income tax (expense) benefit


(945)

573





Net earnings (loss) and comprehensive income (loss)


$

1,223

$

(4,574)





Net earnings (loss) and comprehensive income (loss):









Attributable to Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders


$

2,379

$

(1,269)


Attributable to Limited Partner's non-controlling interest


(1,156)

(3,305)



$

1,223

$

(4,574)





Earnings (loss) per share




Basic


$

0.06

$

(0.03)

Diluted


$

0.06

$

(0.03)





Weighted average number of common shares outstanding




Basic


38,085

38,026

Diluted


38,189

38,097

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.
Condensed Interim Consolidated Statements of Financial Position
(Unaudited, in thousands)



December 31,
2015

September 30,
2015

Assets




Current assets





Cash and cash equivalents


$

18,665

$

5,682


Accounts receivable


9,693

3,783


Income taxes receivable


1,025

210


Inventory


23,106

22,590


Prepaid expenses


4,582

4,215


Notes receivable


153

153



57,224

36,633

Notes receivable


624

624

Property, buildings and equipment


315,726

315,312

Property held for development


9,244

9,244

Intangible assets


286,961

290,009

Goodwill


142,343

142,343



$

812,122

$

794,165





Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity




Current liabilities





Accounts payable and accrued liabilities


$

34,367

$

28,793


Provisions


1,806

1,701


Deferred revenue


52,601

27,974



88,774

58,468

Other liabilities


3,129

3,691

Long-term debt


228,143

232,436

Deferred income tax liability


26,626

26,089

Limited Partner's liability


72,796

72,796

Total liabilities


419,468

393,480

Share capital


444,714

443,290

Contributed surplus


1,355

1,485

Deficit


(97,586)

(90,666)

Total Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders' equity


348,483

354,109

Non-controlling interest


44,171

46,576



392,654

400,685



$

812,122

$

794,165

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.
Condensed Interim Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
(Unaudited, in thousands)


Three months ended
December 31, 2015

Three months ended
December 31, 2014




Cash provided by (used in)






Operations






Net earnings (loss) and comprehensive income (loss)

$

1,223

$

(4,574)




Adjustments for:




Income tax expense (benefit)

945

(573)


Finance expense on long-term debt

2,171

3,026


Finance expense on Limited Partner's interest

2,300

2,252


Depreciation and amortization

10,481

10,329


Disposal losses (gains)

116

(62)


Share-based compensation

329

227


17,565

10,625




Interest and swap installments paid on long-term debt

(2,146)

(2,277)

Finance expense paid on Limited Partner's interest

(2,243)

(2,315)

Income taxes paid

(1,223)

(2,867)

Changes in non-cash operating working capital

23,459

26,481





$

35,412

$

29,647




Financing



Dividends paid on common shares

(9,299)

(9,268)

Distributions to Limited Partner's non-controlling interest

(1,249)

(1,741)

Repayment of long-term debt

(22,000)

-

Draws on revolving credit facility

18,000

7,000

Proceeds from issuances of common stock from stock option exercises

965

-

Debt issuance costs

(380)

(382)


$

(13,963)

$

(4,391)




Investing



Expenditures on property, buildings, equipment and intangibles

(8,559)

(14,424)

Proceeds from sale of property and equipment

93

118


$

(8,466)

$

(14,306)




Cash and cash equivalents, end of period



Increase in cash and cash equivalents

12,983

10,950

Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period

5,682

8,410


$

18,665

$

19,360

SOURCE Whistler Blackcomb

For further information: Please contact: David Wilcox, Manager, Finance & Investor Relations, Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., dwilcox@whistlerblackcomb.com, ph: 604.938.7376

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