McKenna Whitney learns to snowboard Monday afternoon at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Whitney was visiting the ski area — which is owned by Intrawest — from Houston.

Photo by John F. Russell

McKenna Whitney learns to snowboard Monday afternoon at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Whitney was visiting the ski area — which is owned by Intrawest — from Houston.

Intrawest looks to use liquidity for acquisitions, real estate development

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Intrawest, which owns Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., released its earnings report Monday for the second quarter of fiscal year 2014.

The first report for Intrawest since its initial public offering earlier in 2014, which netted $29 million for company, showed an improvement in adjusted earnings of $1.7 million compared to break even in the same quarter of 2013.

The IPO and the company’s earlier restructuring have placed it in a better position for acquisitions, Intrawest CEO Bill Jensen said during an earnings call Monday. No resort-specific information was provided during the call.

Gary Ferrera, Intrawest’s chief financial officer, said the company now has liquidity available for acquisitions and real estate development.

In the next six to 24 months, Ferrera said Intrawest would like to complete a couple of transactions.

When Intrawest mentioned mountain acquisitions in the runup to its IPO, Jensen said the company started to get calls about opportunities.

“Our initial focus was going to be in that Northeast section of the (U.S.) marketplace,” Jensen said, describing a strategy that would build on Intrawest’s existing portfolio in the area. “That approach hasn't changed yet.”

Ferrera said the company would like to get some real estate deals going on its 1,150 acres of base area land across its resorts in the next 12 to 24 months.

Ferrera also said that Intrawest would be looking to invest between $8 million to $12 million per year for mountain resort improvements beyond the $30 million of capital expenditures typically budgeted for maintenance.

During the second quarter of FY14, which typically is a slower period at the start of the ski season, skier visits across the seven resorts Intrawest has a stake in or manages were up 12.4 percent.

Jensen attributed the early season increase in skier visits to good snow conditions and an uptick in visitors using season or multiday passes, which drove down the effective ticket price for the quarter. About one-third of Intrawest’s lift revenue comes from season or multiday passes, according to Jensen, and that share is increasing.

In addition to lift revenue being up, the ski school line of Intrawest’s mountain segment also performed well, which Ferrera attributed to season pass holders placing children in season programs.

In reference to the new Intrawest Passport season pass, Jensen said the initial week of sales exceeded the company’s expectations. The price of the Intrawest Passport is in line with the company’s intention to realize a price increase between 3 to 4 percent next season, he said.

Jensen said he thought the Intrawest Passport would increase visitation between multiple Intrawest resorts, particularly destination resorts where visitors also rely on them for lodging and other resources.

Intrawest Ski Resorts

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206, email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @MLSchrantz

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