Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. reports strong 2015 first quarter results and mid-season indicators

WHISTLER, BC, Feb. 11, 2015 /CNW/ - Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. (TSX: WB) (the "Company") today reported financial results for the first quarter ended December 31, 2014. Adjusted EBITDA (as defined below) was $10.2 million for the quarter, a 7.6% increase over the first quarter last year. 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  

  • Total revenue increased 9.6% compared to the first quarter last year, driven by a 4.1% increase in skier visits to 407,000 visits and a 5.9% increase in revenue per visit to $123.90, reflecting strong growth in the Company's Effective Ticket Price ("ETP" – as defined below) and increased guest spending in the Company's retail, rental and snow school businesses.
  • Favourable mid-season indicators as at February 8, 2015 compared to the same date last year: season pass and frequency card sales increased 6% to $44.5 million and hotel room bookings in Whistler over the remainder of the ski season are pacing 3% ahead.
  • Skier visits for the season to February 8, 2015 were 900,000, consistent with the equivalent period last year. Management estimated that total skier visits to date were comprised of 56% regional guests and 44% destination guests compared to 59% and 41%, respectively, in the comparative period last year. Unseasonably warm and wet weather in January and early February this season contributed to fewer regional visits compared to last year.

Today the Company also announced a planned investment of $5.4 million in a significant upgrade to the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain. The upgrade is designed to improve guest experience and drive incremental contribution from this important year-round mountain-top restaurant facility.

Dave Brownlie, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company commented: "We are pleased with our performance over the busy Christmas holiday period. We welcomed a good mix of destination and regional visitors and guest spending patterns were favourable, both of which contributed to the increase in revenue per visit for the quarter. Since December 31, 2014 we have faced some challenging conditions at lower elevations but we continue to have excellent ski conditions above the treeline, which clearly differentiates Whistler Blackcomb from its competitors." Mr. Brownlie continued: "Looking ahead, we're 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." 

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







Three months ended
December 31,




2014


2013

% Change

Visit Metrics






Skier visits


407


391

4.1%

Other visits


34


35

(2.9%)

Total visits


441


426

3.5%







Pricing Metrics






ETP

$

56.48

$

53.52

5.5%

Revenue per total visit

$

123.90

$

116.99

5.9%







Financial Results






Total revenue

$

54,638

$

49,837

9.6%

Operating expenses, excluding depreciation and amortization


(34,732)


(32,870)

5.7%

Selling, general and administrative


(9,659)


(7,447)

29.7%

Adjusted EBITDA

$

10,247

$

9,520

7.6%







 

Visit, Pricing and Financial Results Summary

  • The increase in skier visits for the three months ended December 31, 2014 was attributable to improved visitation over the Christmas holiday period, offset in part by fewer operating days due to a later ski season start compared to last year. Destination skier visits comprised approximately 38% of skier visits for the first quarter of fiscal 2015, unchanged from the comparative quarter last year.
  • The increase in revenue per visit for the first quarter reflected growth in ETP due to increased lift ticket prices, combined with improved pricing and guest spending in the Company's retail, rental, and snow school businesses. In December 2014, the Company acquired Summit Ski Ltd., a complementary ski, snowboard and bike rental and retail business in Whistler, which contributed to the increase in retail and rental revenue compared to the first quarter last year. Further details of the acquisition will not be disclosed as the transaction is not material to the Company's financial position or results of operations.
  • The increase in Adjusted EBITDA for the quarter ended December 31, 2014 was driven primarily by higher revenue per visit compared to the prior period, as described above, offset partially by higher labour, retail and rental cost of sales and higher selling, general and administrative expenses compared to the prior period. The increase in labour costs and cost of sales were a result of improved business volumes, while the increase in selling, general and administrative expenses was attributable primarily to higher spending on marketing initiatives, which targeted key markets in North America and Europe.

Treasury Summary

  • As at December 31, 2014, the Company had long-term debt outstanding of $239.0 million, an increase of $7.0 million, or 3%, compared to $232.0 million at September 30, 2014. The Company's cash and cash equivalents balance at December 31, 2014 was $19.4 million compared to $8.4 million at September 30, 2014.
  • Cash interest paid during the quarter ended December 31, 2014 decreased by 34% to $2.3 million from $3.4 million in the prior year due to the lower interest rate on the Company's credit facility, as a result of the refinancing in November 2013, and a lower debt balance outstanding during the quarter compared to the prior period.

Mid-Season Indicators

  • Skier visits for the 2014-15 season to February 8, 2015 were 900,000, flat compared to the same period in the prior year. Management estimated that total skier visits to date were comprised of 56% regional guests and 44% destination guests compared to 59% and 41%, respectively, in the comparative period last year.
  • As at February 8, 2015, the Company's 2014-15 season pass and frequency card sales were $44.5 million, an increase of 6% over season pass and frequency card sales at the same time in the prior year.
  • Hotel bookings over the remainder of the ski season in Whistler's accommodation sector as at February 8, 2015 were pacing 3% ahead of bookings at the same time in the prior year.

Capital Investment

The Company also announced a planned $5.4 million capital investment to upgrade and expand the Rendezvous Lodge on Blackcomb Mountain.  The investment in this year-round alpine restaurant facility is designed to improve guest experience and increase restaurant seating capacity by 8.5%.  The Rendezvous project is expected to be complete by the start of the 2015-16 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 27, 2015 to shareholders of record on February 20, 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 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 10, 2014 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 Loss to Adjusted EBITDA

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




 (In thousands) 

Three months ended

December 31, 2014

Three months ended

December 31, 2013




Net loss

($ 4,574)

($ 12,296)

Depreciation and amortization

10,329

10,524

Finance expense, long term debt

3,026

11,967

Finance expense, Limited Partner's interest

2,252

1,925

Income tax expense (benefit)

(573)

(2,601)

EBITDA

10,460

9,519

Other income

(213)

-

Other expenses

-

1

Adjusted EBITDA

$ 10,247

$ 9,520




 

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




(In thousands) 

Three months ended

December 31, 2014

Three months ended
December 31, 2013




Revenue

$  54,638

$  49,837

Less: Non-ski lift revenue

(31,650)

(28,911)

Total ski lift revenue

22,988

20,926

Divided by: Total skier visits

407

391

Effective Ticket Price

$    56.48

$    53.52




 

Conference Call Information

Management will conduct a conference call on February 11, 2015 at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Time / 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time to review the Company's fiscal 2015 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 1,165 centimetres (459 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 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 include comments about the Company's 2014-15 season pass and frequency card sales, the Rendezvous capital investment, hotel bookings, among others, and are based on certain factors and assumptions made by management of the Company including, but not limited to: business conditions, guest visitation, weather, macroeconomic and currency influences, and interest rates, among others. These forward-looking statements and information contained 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 tradenames, 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 (Loss)

For the three months ended December 31, 2014 and 2013

(in thousands, except per share amounts)
















Three months

ended

December 31,

2014


Three months

ended

December 31,

2013







Resort revenue


$

54,638

$

49,837







Operating expenses



34,732


32,870

Depreciation and amortization



10,329


10,524

Selling, general and administrative



9,659


7,447




54,720


50,841







Loss from operations



(82)


(1,004)







Other income



213


-

Other expenses



-


(1)

Finance expense, long term debt



(3,026)


(11,967)

Finance expense, Limited Partner's interest



(2,252)


(1,925)







Net loss before income tax



(5,147)


(14,897)







Income tax benefit



573


2,601







Net loss and comprehensive loss


$

(4,574)

$

(12,296)







Net loss and comprehensive loss:













Attributable to Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders


$

(1,269)

$

(7,302)


Attributable to Limited Partner's non-controlling interest



(3,305)


(4,994)



$

(4,574)

$

(12,296)







Loss per share







Basic


$

(0.03)

$

(0.19)


Diluted


$

(0.03)

$

(0.19)







Weighted average number of common shares outstanding







Basic



38,026


37,961


Diluted



38,584


38,018








 

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.






Consolidated Statements of Financial Position






(in thousands)





















December

31, 2014


September

30, 2014







Assets












Current assets:







Cash and cash equivalents


$

19,360

$

8,410


Accounts receivable



12,520


4,496


Income taxes receivable



1,721


-


Inventory



22,582


18,633


Prepaid expenses



3,752


3,985


Notes receivable



145


145




60,080


35,669

Notes receivable



777


777

Property, buildings and equipment



322,425


319,897

Property held for development



9,244


9,244

Intangible assets



298,591


300,778

Goodwill



142,440


137,354



$

833,557

$

803,719







Liabilities and Shareholders' Equity












Current liabilities:







Accounts payable and accrued liabilities


$

36,439

$

25,715


Income taxes payable



-


2,403


Provisions



2,033


2,139


Deferred revenue



55,150


27,610




93,622


57,867

Long-term debt



236,564


229,855

Other long-term liabilities



2,046


-

Deferred income tax liability



22,658


21,974

Limited Partner's interest



72,796


72,796

Total liabilities



427,686


382,492







Equity







Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders' equity








Common shares; no par value; unlimited number authorized;








38,026 outstanding (Sept 30, 2014 – 38,026)



442,879


442,879




Additional paid-in capital



1,146


919




Deficit



(84,486)


(73,949)

Total Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. shareholders' equity



359,539


369,849


Limited Partner's non-controlling interest



46,332


51,378




405,871


421,227



$

833,557

$

803,719

 

Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc.






Condensed Interim Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows






For the three months ended December 31, 2014 and 2013






(in thousands)















Three months

ended

December 31,

2014


Three months

ended

December 31,

2013







Cash provided by (used in)












Operations












Net loss


$

(4,574)

$

(12,296)







Adjustments for:







Income tax benefit



(573)


(2,601)


Interest expense on long-term debt



3,026


11,967


Finance expense on Limited Partner's interest



2,252


1,925


Depreciation and amortization



10,329


10,524


Disposal losses (gains)



(62)


1


Share-based compensation



227


235




10,625


9,755







Interest paid on long-term debt



(2,277)


(3,431)

Prepayment penalty paid on second lien facility repayment



-


(5,500)

Finance expense paid on Limited Partner's interest



(2,315)


(1,925)

Income taxes paid



(2,867)


(1,573)

Changes in non-cash operating working capital



26,481


27,394










29,647


24,720







Financing






Dividends paid on common shares



(9,268)


(9,252)

Distributions to Limited Partner's non-controlling interest



(1,741)


(1,395)

Repayment of long-term debt



-


(261,000)

Draws on revolving credit facility



7,000


261,000

Debt issuance costs



(382)


(2,627)




(4,391)


(13,274)







Investing






Expenditures on property, buildings, equipment and intangibles



(14,424)


(9,683)

Proceeds from sale of property and equipment



118


105

Repayment of notes receivable



-


33




(14,306)


(9,545)







Cash and cash equivalents, end of period






Increase in cash and cash equivalents



10,950


1,901

Cash and cash equivalents, beginning of period



8,410


41,353



$

19,360

$

43,254

 

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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