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Why Ski Resorts Could Thrive in a Post-Pandemic World

By Matthew Frankel, CFP® – Dec 5, 2020 at 2:37AM

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Service-based businesses have been hurt by the pandemic, but some could do quite well once the dust settles.

In the COVID-19 pandemic, travel-related businesses have been some of the market's worst performers. But some are in a better position to rebound than others, and ski resorts fit into this category. In this Nov. 17 Fool Live video clip, two experts from The Motley Fool's real estate brand, Millionacres -- real estate analyst Matt Frankel, CFP, and editor Diedre Woollard -- discuss why ski resorts could thrive in a post-pandemic world and what it means to investors. 

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Deidre Woollard: That's very true. I want to also talk about another factor that I did a story recently on, which is ski season. I know EPR Properties (EPR 3.03%) has some ski resorts. I know you also follow Vail Resorts (MTN 2.28%), which is not a REIT, but operates a lot of the major ski resorts. One of the things we saw over the summer, people got more interested in golf because you can really socially distance and still be outside. Do you think that's going to transfer over for ski season?

Matt Frankel: Ski season, Vail has been one of the best performing stocks I follow this year even before the vaccine news. I think it's because they are doing such a great job of, one, getting people to pre-book passes for this. They offered credit toward last year's cancellations so if people wanted to buy a new season can pass. The business is really conducive to social distancing just naturally. I'm not a skier, I know my fellow Millionacres analyst, Matty A. is a skier and he complains about the long lines at the ski lifts. But aside from that, a mountain is a huge place so that's a minor adjustment that they would have to make to really socially distance. Like I said, it's outdoors, it's something that people would feel comfortable doing. I think I'm very positive on ski season this year. I think that's going to be one of EPR's saving graces right now, actually.

Deidre Woollard: Really? Interesting. Do you think-I'm sorry, go ahead.

Matt Frankel: Well, I could see EPR looking to diversify a way from movie theaters in general. Right now, out of their 300 and 70-ish properties, 180 of them are big movie theaters. That's a huge concentration. It was almost half of their rental income before the pandemic. I could see them looking for ways to diversify, and I know they love the skiing business. I think they'll actually rent some of EPR ski resorts, or is the operator of some of EPR ski resorts rather. I know they have a tenant-landlord relationship already. I could see that expanding. I can see EPR actively looking to diversify, and I know the ski resort business is one that works in, not necessarily in any economy, but it is more resilient than a lot of discretionary businesses. But it's very conducive, especially in the age of social distancing, and as Dave said, we don't know how long it's going to last. We might be wearing masks even into the 2021 ski season, so I could see them using that as a diversification tool.

Deidre Woollard has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Matthew Frankel, CFP owns shares of EPR Properties. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends EPR Properties. The Motley Fool recommends Vail Resorts. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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