(updated to include real estate earnings data, and mid-day price movement)



) -- The ski report is mixed.

Vail Resorts

(MTN) - Get Report

was sloshing through a tough Tuesday morning as a result of its pre-market earnings disappointment. Vail Resorts was down more than 10% at the opening bell after the first-quarter 2010 results showed that revenue and real estate EBITDA declined and the net loss was bigger for the first quarter 2010 than in the year earlier period.

It was the second consecutive poor quarter for Vail, and its shares had lost close to $4 in early trading. The shares' movement was also volatile, jumping from a 10% loss to an 8% loss and then back to a 9% dip, or $3.73, within minutes of the market opening; at mid-day Vail was down over 10% on three times its average trading volume.

Total net revenue of $80.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 was close to half the level of $152.8 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2009, a 47.1% decline.

The net loss of $41.2 million, or a loss of $1.14 per diluted share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2010 compared to a net loss of $34.5 million, or $0.93 per diluted share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

Vail pointed investors specifically to its real estate and real estate reported EBITDA, in explaining the earnings drop. The real estate EBITDA was signficantly decreased, as expected, due to the prior year closings. Additionally, first quarter 2010 included the sale of an undeveloped land parcel located in the Arrowhead base area of Beaver Creek Resort for $8.5 million, which was not included in real estate segment net revenue but rather was recorded as a gain on sale of real property of $6.1 million, net of $2.4 million in related cost of sales, which was included in the real estate EBITDA.

Vail sought to remind investors that the first quarter is a typically seasonally bad one for the company. Rob Katz, CEO said, "Our first fiscal quarter is a seasonally low earnings period and historically a loss quarter, since our mountain resorts are not open for winter ski operations during the period. The first quarter Resort results are generally driven by the Company's summer mountain operations, lodging operations including our summer seasonal business at Grand Teton Lodge Company, golf operations and group business."

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Vail also noted that the Mountain Group EBITDA improved by $2.4 million, or 6.1%, compared to the prior year first quarter on cost savings initiatives implemented earlier in the year, including wage reductions for full-time and seasonal employees.

Vail's Lodging was down compared to the previous year, with a hotel revenue per available room decline of 11.7%, though Vail noted that the decline was smaller than declines experienced by the luxury and the upper upscale segments of the lodging industry of 22% and 17%, respectively.

Vail CEO Katz also tried to strike a positive note headed into ski season, saying the season pass sales have been strong. "Our company has been able to markedly grow total season pass sales in advance of the ski season. Through December 6, compared to the comparable period of the prior year, our total season pass sales to date have increased approximately 11% in units and approximately 9% in sales dollars. As season pass sales in the prior year represented 34% of ultimate total lift ticket revenue, we believe this season pass sales performance provides stability and good momentum heading into this ski season."

Still, Vail also noted that through the end of November, lodging advance bookings for the 2009/2010 ski season were down approximately 13% compared to the same period last year. Vail tried to keep the outlook positive here also, saying that in previous years the end-of-November numbers were not an indicator of what actual season sales would turn out to be: "We currently anticipate the booking trend for the full ski season to improve significantly from the booking status as of November 30," Katz said.

Still, the ski report is clearly mixed, as Vail conceded. Overall lodging bookings are showing mixed results with some periods and locations stronger, while most periods are down compared to the prior year. Katz summed up the earnings, saying, "Accordingly, at this early point in our 2009/2010 ski season, we are reiterating our fiscal 2010 guidance ranges issued in late September 2009."

That guidance projects EBIDTA in the range of $170 million to $188 million and net income of $25 million to $36 million, which are in line with the consensus analyst estimate.

-- Reported by Eric Rosenbaum in New York.

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