Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. Reports Record Financial Results for the Third Consecutive Year

WHISTLER, BC, Dec. 14, 2015 /CNW/ - Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. (TSX: WB) (the "Company") today reported financial results for the year and fourth quarter ended September 30, 2015. 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 growth in the Company's non-ski and ancillary businesses contributed to a 3.0% increase in revenue to $262.3 million and 0.3% increase in adjusted EBITDA (defined below) to $93.0 million for fiscal 2015, representing the Company's third consecutive year of record financial results. Fourth quarter adjusted EBITDA increased 48.1% to $3.2 million due to a 14.6% increase in revenue per visit.

  • Other visits increased 5.2% to 610,000 for fiscal 2015, representing the highest sightseeing, hiking and mountain bike park visits in the Company's history. Skier visits decreased 9.0% for the year ended September 30, 2015 due to challenging snow conditions at lower elevations.

  • Readers of Ski Magazine have recently rated Whistler Blackcomb the number one ski resort in North America for the second consecutive year, and for the third time in the past four years, with leading rankings in the following categories: terrain variety, off-hill activities, scenery, lifts, après-ski, terrain parks, lodging, and overall guest satisfaction.

 

Dave Brownlie, the Company's President and Chief Executive Officer commented: "We are honoured to be rated the number one ski resort in North America two years in a row and we look forward to continuing to deliver unforgettable experiences for our guests.  Over the past three fiscal years we have invested in on-mountain improvements and business acquisitions, which have elevated guest experience, diversified our operations and contributed meaningfully to our financial performance.  The unveiling of the Rendezvous Lodge upgrade on Blackcomb Mountain in November is a great example of these investments."  Mr. Brownlie continued: "The 2015-16 ski season is off to an excellent start with great early season conditions and over 7,000 acres of terrain open to the public, more than any other ski resort in North America.  I am also pleased to report that we are seeing strong skier visit momentum, which combined with solid pre-committed mountain product sales, positions us well leading into the busy holiday period."

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





Year ended

September 30,

Three months ended

September 30,



2015


2014

% Change


2015


2014

% Change

Visit Metrics











Skier visits


1,770


1,945

(9.0%)


-


-

-

Other visits


610


580

5.2%


391


395

(1.0%)

Total visits


2,380


2,525

(5.7%)


391


395

(1.0%)












Pricing Metrics











ETP

$

59.88

$

55.77

7.4%

$

-

$

-

-

Revenue per total visit

$

110.19

$

100.80

9.3%

$

91.00

$

79.39

14.6%












Financial Results











Total revenue

$

262,254

$

254,517

3.0%

$

35,581

$

31,358

13.5%

Operating expenses, excluding depreciation and amortization


(140,122)


(134,081)

4.5%


(25,435)


(23,073)

10.2%

Selling, general and administrative


(29,174)


(27,761)

5.1%


(6,899)


(6,093)

13.2%

Adjusted EBITDA

$

92,958

$

92,675

0.3%

$

3,247

$

2,192

48.1%

 

Visit, Pricing and Financial Results Summary

  • Other visits increased for fiscal 2015 reflecting strong growth in the Company's sightseeing, hiking and mountain bike park businesses. The decrease in skier visits for the year ended September 30, 2015 was attributable to unfavourable winter conditions at lower elevations, driven by unusually warm weather and below average snowfall in the Pacific Northwest. For the 2014-15 ski season destination skier visits are estimated to have comprised approximately 49% of skier visits compared to approximately 41% for the 2013-14 ski season.

  • The increases in revenue per total visit for both the year and quarter ended September 30, 2015 reflected the strong mix of destination visits, improved performance of the Company's retail, rental, and snow school businesses, and the first quarter acquisition of Summit Ski Limited, a complementary ski, snowboard and bike rental and retail business in Whistler. The increased ETP for the 2014-15 ski season was attributable to increased lift ticket prices and lower utilization of pass and card products, which resulted in a higher yield on these visits.

  • The increase in Adjusted EBITDA for the year and quarter ended September 30, 2015 was driven by increased revenue per visit, as described above, offset in part by lower total visits, increased spending on sales and marketing, higher operating expenses due mainly to inflationary wage increases and increased cost of sales resulting from higher ancillary business sales volumes.

 

Treasury Summary

  • As at September 30, 2015, the Company had long-term debt outstanding of $234.5 million, an increase of $2.5 million, or 1.1%, compared to $232.0 million at September 30, 2014. The Company's cash and cash equivalents balance at September 30, 2015 was $5.7 million compared to $8.4 million at September 30, 2014.

  • For the year ended September 30, 2015, cash interest paid decreased 10.0% or $1.0 million to $8.7 million compared to the prior year principally due to the lower average debt balance and lower effective interest rate on the Company's credit facility in 2015.

  • Subsequent to year end, the Company extended the maturity of its $300 million credit facility to November 12, 2020 and extended the term of its $125 million interest rate swap to September 5, 2020.

 

Indicators

  • As of December 12, 2015, the Company generated $36.2 million in 2015-16 season pass and frequency card sales, which represented a 1.5% decrease in sales compared to the same time last year.

  • Forward bookings in Whistler's accommodation sector as of December 7, 2015 were pacing approximately 3% ahead of bookings at the same time in the prior year, reflecting strength from European and US destination markets.

 

Dividend

The Company's Board of Directors declared a dividend of $0.24375 per common share for the fourth quarter, to be paid on December 31, 2015 to shareholders of record on December 24, 2015.  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 Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. 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 to Adjusted EBITDA

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






(In thousands) 

Twelve Months
ended September
30, 2015

Twelve Months
ended September
30, 2014

Three months
ended September
30, 2015

Three months
ended September
30, 2014






Consolidated net earnings

$

21,285

$

18,040

$

(10,941)

$

(11,433)

Depreciation and amortization

42,168

41,254

10,722

10,092

Finance expense, long term debt

11,955

18,592

2,719

2,202

Finance expense, Limited Partner's interest

8,581

8,340

2,243

2,315

Income tax expense

8,049

5,737

(1,998)

(3,153)

EBITDA

$

92,038

$

91,963

$

2,745

$

23

Other income

(329)

(3,068)

(196)

(110)

Other expense

1,249

3,780

698

2,279

Adjusted EBITDA

$

92,958

$

92,675

$

3,247

$

2,192

 

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




(In thousands) 

Year ended
September 30,
2015

Year ended
September 30,
2014




Revenue

$

262,254

$

254,517

Less: Non-ski lift revenue

(156,259)

(146,054)

Total ski lift revenue

$

105,995

$

108,463

Divided by: Total skier visits

1,770

1,945

Effective Ticket Price

$

59.88

$

55.77

 

Conference Call Information

Management will conduct a conference call on December 14, 2015 at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time to review the Company's fiscal 2015 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, review of the Company's fiscal 2015 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 momentum in summer visitation 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.
Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income 
(in thousands, except per share amounts)







Twelve Months ended
September 30, 2015

Twelve Months ended
September 30, 2014









Resort Revenue


$

262,254

$

254,517





Operating expenses


140,122

134,081

Depreciation and amortization


42,168

41,254

Selling, general and administrative


29,174

27,761



211,464

203,096





Earnings from operations


50,790

51,421





Other income


329

3,068

Other expense


(1,249)

(3,780)

Finance expense, long term debt


(11,955)

(18,592)

Finance expense, Limited Partner's interest


(8,581)

(8,340)





Net earnings before income tax


29,334

23,777





Income tax expense


(8,049)

(5,737)





Net earnings and comprehensive income


$

21,285

$

18,040





Net earnings and comprehensive income:









Attributable to Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders


$

20,375

$

17,891


Attributable to Limited Partner's non-controlling interest


910

149



$

21,285

$

18,040





Earnings per share




Basic


$

0.54

$

0.47

Diluted


$

0.53

$

0.47





Weighted average number of common shares outstanding




Basic


38,042

38,008

Diluted


38,150

38,274

 

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.
Consolidated Statements of Financial Position 
(in thousands)







September 30, 2015

September 30, 2014

Assets




Current assets




Cash and cash equivalents


$

5,682

$

8,410

Accounts receivable


3,783

4,496

Income taxes receivable


210

-

Inventory


22,590

18,633

Prepaid expenses


4,215

3,985

Notes receivable


153

145



36,633

35,669

Notes receivable


624

777

Property, buildings and equipment


315,312

319,897

Property held for development


9,244

9,244

Intangible assets


290,009

300,778

Goodwill


142,343

137,354



$

794,165

$

803,719





Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity




Current liabilities




Accounts payable and accrued liabilities


$

28,793

$

25,715

Income taxes payable


-

2,403

Provisions


1,701

2,139

Deferred revenue


27,974

27,610



58,468

57,867

Other liabilities


3,691

-

Long-term debt


232,436

229,855

Deferred income tax liability


26,089

21,974

Limited Partner's liability


72,796

72,796

Total liabilities


393,480

382,492

Share capital


443,290

442,879

Contributed surplus


1,485

919

Deficit


(90,666)

(73,949)

Total Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders' equity


354,109

369,849

Non-controlling interest


46,576

51,378



400,685

421,227



$

794,165

$

803,719

 

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.
Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows
(in thousands)







Twelve months ended
September 30, 2015

Twelve months ended
September 30, 2014





Cash provided by (used in)








Operations








Net earnings and comprehensive income


$

21,285

$

18,040





Adjustments for:





Income tax expense


8,049

5,737


Finance expense on long-term debt


11,955

18,592


Finance expense on Limited Partner's interest


8,581

8,340


Depreciation and amortization


42,168

41,254


Disposal losses


1,119

2,143


Share-based compensation


933

805



94,090

94,911





Interest and swap installments paid on long-term debt


(8,688)

(9,652)

Prepayment penalty paid on second lien facility repayment


-

(5,500)

Finance expense paid on Limited Partner's interest


(8,653)

(6,025)

Income taxes paid


(6,699)

(3,695)

Changes in non-cash operating working capital


(397)

(2,191)







$

69,653

$

67,848





Financing




Dividends paid on common shares


(37,092)

(37,059)

Distributions to Limited Partner's non-controlling interest


(5,711)

(3,707)

Repayment of long-term debt


(38,610)

(318,000)

Draws on revolving credit facility


41,110

289,000

Proceeds from issuances of common stock from stock option exercises


44

-

Debt issuance costs


(382)

(2,627)



$

(40,641)

$

(72,393)





Investing




Expenditures on property, buildings, equipment and intangibles


(32,086)

(30,650)

Proceeds from sale of property and equipment


201

227

Repayment of notes receivable


145

2,025



$

(31,740)

$

(28,398)





Cash and cash equivalents, end of year




Decrease in cash and cash equivalents


(2,728)

(32,943)

Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of year


8,410

41,353



$

5,682

$

8,410

 

SOURCE Whistler Blackcomb

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

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