Whistler Blackcomb (WB) revenue increased through the first half of the fiscal year, despite one of the most challenging winters in recent memory.
On May 8, WB reported its second quarter financial results, touting revenue of $191.4 million — a 1.5 per cent increase over the same period last year thanks in part to higher pricing and more destination visitors.
Skier visits for the season to March 31 were 9.3 per cent lower than the same period last year — a drop WB CEO Dave Brownlie associated to lower regional visits.
"Total visits for this season to May 3 were 1.82 million compared to 1.99 million visits last season," Brownlie said.
"For the six months ended March 31, 2015, 49 per cent of our skier visits were from destination markets and 51 per cent were regional visits, which compares to 41 per cent and 59 per cent respectively last year."
The increase in destination skiers is encouraging, Brownlie said, as they tend to spend more than regional skiers.
"We increased our first quarter sales and marketing spend targeted towards certain key markets in North America and Europe," he said. "We certainly saw the benefits of that increased spend in 2015."
WB's adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) for the first half of the year was $86.4 million — 1.9 per cent lower than the same period last year.
"The change in EBITDA was primarily attributable to lower skier visits and higher operating expenses, including the increase in sales and marketing spending," said Jeremy Black, WB's chief financial officer.
The drop in EBITDA was offset in part by increased revenue per visit — $120.63 compared to $108.61 over the same period last year.
Brownlie said he was also pleased with the growth of WB's snow school and retail rental businesses, which increased revenue by 6.5 per cent and 11.5 per cent respectively.
The early start to the summer season — with the Whistler Mountain Bike Park opening two weeks early — is also good news.
"The strength of our summer business is a key differentiator for Whistler Blackcomb and we continue to focus on driving growth during the summer period," Brownlie said.
All things considered, WB's winter business performed well.
"(It) highlights some of our competitive strengths," Brownlie said.
Net income dropped to $46.7 million from $52 million in last year's second quarter, while adjusted earnings fell to $76.1 million from $78.6 million.
Back in December, WB released details of its executive compensation levels for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014.
The public document showed the total compensation amounts for the ski resort's top five executive officers, made up of base salary, share-based compensation and performance-based incentives.
Brownlie's total compensation was slightly lower than last year — $1.09 million compared to nearly $1.13 million in 2013.
Brownlie's compensation was made up of a base salary of $454,388, share and option-based awards of $364,000 and an annual incentive plan of just over $263,000.
Black received a total compensation of $608,028 (salary $316,303). Senior VP of marketing and sales Stuart Rempel received $402,712 (salary $228,048), VP of mountain operations Robert Dufour received $325,723 (salary $183,259) and VP of business development Robert McSkimming received $329,589 (salary $180,169).
"During fiscal 2014 Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. delivered a total shareholder return in excess of 40 per cent while our executive compensation was generally flat with compensation levels for fiscal 2013," explained WB's manager of finance and investor relations David Wilcox.
"In setting executive compensation, the Compensation Committee of our Board of Directors engages independent third party advisors to ensure that our total compensation is competitive with comparably sized companies while achieving its objective of motivating, retaining and rewarding our senior leaders for their performance and contribution to Whistler Blackcomb's long-term success."