What happened 

Shares of Vail Resorts (MTN 0.37%) fell as much as 16.6% in trading Friday after the ski resort operator reported quarterly earnings. The stock hasn't shown any real recovery thus far, as it's still down 16.1% at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

So what

In the fiscal 2019 first quarter, net loss was $107.8 million, or $2.66 per share compared to a $28.4 million loss a year ago. Revenue for the quarter dropped to $220.0 million as retail and dining and real estate revenue fell slightly. The problem with the results is that investors were expecting revenue of $235.1 million and a loss of just $2.47. 

Ski lift operating in snowy mountains.

Image source: Getty Images.

On the plus side, season pass sales through Dec. 2, 2018, were up 21% on a unit basis versus a year ago and 13% in sales dollars. Season passes are a great way to generate early season cash flow and lock in customers no matter what the ski season weather looks like. 

Now what

It's always tough to judge a seasonal company like Vail Resorts on an off-peak quarter like this. Revenue and losses can be volatile, but investors didn't like the decline in revenue and that's why we're seeing losses today.

Long term, it's positive to see an increase in season pass sales, which should keep the business humming along this winter. Management also reaffirmed its guidance for $718 million to $750 million of resort EBITDA for the fiscal year, so the company's full-year outlook isn't nearly as dire as it seems today on the stock market.