Vail Resorts Earnings: An Early Look

Earnings season is winding down, with most companies already having reported their quarterly results. But there are still some companies left to report, and Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN  ) is about to release its quarterly earnings. The key to making smart investment decisions with stocks releasing their quarterly reports is to anticipate how they'll do before they announce results, leaving you fully prepared to respond quickly to whatever inevitable surprises arise. That way, you'll be less likely to make an uninformed knee-jerk reaction to news that turns out to be exactly the wrong move.

More than most businesses, Vail Resorts depends on Mother Nature for a big part of its success or failure. Without snow, the company loses big on its seasonal ski resorts. How's the weather treating the business this year? Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Vail Resorts over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its quarterly report on Wednesday.

Stats on Vail Resorts

Analyst EPS Estimate

$1.70

Change From Year-Ago EPS

34%

Revenue Estimate

$414 million

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

10.9%

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

1

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Vail Resorts get snowed in this quarter?
Analysts haven't been too optimistic about Vail's prospects in the past few months, having cut their earnings-per-share estimates by $0.13 for the just-ended quarter and by almost $0.30 for the full 2013 fiscal year. The stock has also been muted in its enthusiasm, rising just 1% since early December.

We've already gotten some early indications of how the ski season is going for Vail, and the news wasn't good. In January, the company reported gains of just 4.3% in lift revenue and 2% in skier visits, blaming bad weather conditions early in the ski season as offsetting later gains during a more successful holiday season. As a result, Vail had to reduce its earnings guidance for fiscal 2013 by about $10 million.

More recently, though, snow totals have gained as snowstorms have hit the West, allowing most ski areas in the region to operate near full capacity. With nearly a foot of snow hitting parts of the Denver metro area last week, hopes are running higher that an extended ski season could bode well for the company. The news has sent shares of snowmobile makers Polaris (NYSE: PII  ) and Arctic Cat (NASDAQ: ACAT  ) higher as well, as both of those companies have also struggled from the unpredictable season thus far.

In Vail's quarterly report, watch for the latest reaction to the recent favorable weather. If Vail can salvage the last part of the season, it could reverse the cuts to profit projections that the company had to make earlier in the quarter.

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