In this segment from Motley Fool Money, host Chris Hill talks snow and spices with analysts David Kretzmann, Seth Jayson, and Jason Moser. First, it's ski resort operator Vail Resorts (NYSE:MTN), which booked a loss in its fiscal fourth quarter. But thanks to a focus on season pass sales and its diversification strategy, it actually increased resort revenue, despite the lack of snow in the Western U.S.
Then, the Fools shift gears to one of Moser's favorite businesses: spice purveyor McCormick (NYSE:MKC) (NYSE:MKC-V). Revenue was a pinch lower than expected, but profits looked good. The Fools talk about the results of last year's RB Foods purchase, the current numbers for the company, and its outlook.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Sept. 28, 2018.
Chris Hill: Vail Resorts wrapped up its fiscal year with a loss in the fourth quarter. Vail Resorts' management said the company suffered from historically poor winter conditions. David, when you're in the business of ski resorts, that has to hurt.
David Kretzmann: It hurts. But the impressive thing about Vail Resorts is, the model they've been shifting to is selling season passes. That's helped smooth out those results. It's a seasonal business, but especially in the Western U.S., I think you had less than 50% the average snowfall over the winter. Over that same period, resort revenue actually increased 2%. They've really found a way to smooth out the edges there with that business.
They're increasingly diversified across the globe. Whistler up in British Columbia had strong results. Their new ski resort over in Australia is doing well. Now they have a partnership in Japan; Europe, as well. Having that diversification across the world, bringing more people into the season passes, trying to increase repeat visits, it's really helped smooth out the business despite that seasonality.
Hill: A mixed third quarter report from McCormick. The spice maker's profits looked pretty good, but overall revenue was a bit light. Still, Jason, this is the rare packaged food company that's doing well.
Jason Moser: Revenue was a bit light. Let's be very clear here, just a smidge. I mean, really, if you round up, they hit everything.
Seth Jayson: A couple of shakes?
Hill: A dash?
Moser: Exactly, a dash. Everybody knows I love this company. I think that's for good reason. The RB foods deal that was announced a little bit over a year ago is no longer a question mark. It was a smart deal. It was well executed. The stock is up 40% since that deal was announced. Frank's and French's, which is what they got from that deal, contributed about 10% to the 14% revenue growth for the quarter. They've added distribution for those powerhouse brands to 20 new countries year to date, as well. What that's playing out in is expanded operating margins. They're seeing some leverage flow through the model there with a larger global footprint.
I think another thing to remember here is that they can absolutely, in time, make another meaningful acquisition down the line. Actually, I think they will. You really do have the market leader in the Flavors and Spices segment. It's very resilient, it's not going away. Technology can't really disrupt it. The value proposition is strong. I think that we continue to see good things from McCormick. Shares are around 30X earnings today, adjusted for tax benefit. Not unreasonable for a high-quality business like this. It's a dividend aristocrat.
Jayson: What's their direct digital sales looking like these days?
Moser: [laughs] I don't know, man! Don't you just buy your spices in the grocery store?
Jayson: [laughs] You know, if they start talking about that, that's probably the time to run, huh?
Moser: Yeah. Direct-to-consumer, that's when I start wondering.
Kretzmann: I think they have a subscription box, you don't know what you're going to get.
Moser: The Netflix of spices!
Kretzmann: I could see it!
Jayson: Amazon is taking notes right now. Your Alexa is sending this to them.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Chris Hill owns shares of AMZN. David Kretzmann owns shares of AMZN, McCormick, NFLX, and Vail Resorts. Jason Moser owns shares of McCormick. Seth Jayson has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends AMZN and NFLX. The Motley Fool recommends McCormick and Vail Resorts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.