Stocks finally found some smooth air on Thursday, providing a nice bounce after several days of downward pressure for most major market benchmarks. The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC 0.95%) managed to post a greater than 1% rise, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI 0.49%) and S&P 500 (^GSPC 0.77%) enjoyed more modest gains as investors got more confident about Wall Street's ability to endure an economic downturn or even a potential recession.


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Given the importance that consumers have in determining the direction of the overall economy, many market participants have focused their attention on consumer-oriented stocks, particularly those with well-to-do clientele who tend to see their finances hold up better during times of broader economic stress.

Late Thursday, ski resort operator Vail Resorts (MTN 1.34%) and high-end home furnishings specialist RH (RH 0.76%) reported their latest financial results, and what each one said shed some light on how well the jet-set consumer demographic is faring.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Shares of Vail Resorts were up about 1.5% in after-hours trading late Thursday, adding to gains of nearly 2% in the regular session. The owner and operator of ski resorts across the globe reported fiscal first-quarter financial results for the period ending Oct. 31, and although the late summer and early fall is a slow season for Vail Resorts, its season pass-sales results had a lot to say about whether skiers and snowboarders are getting ready to head to the slopes for the winter.

Interestingly, Vail's quarterly results actually showed sizable sales gains due largely to the fact that its Australian operations are the only areas open for snow sports during this part of the year. The relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions helped boost mountain segment revenue by 85% year over year to $202 million, driving overall quarterly sales up 59% to $279 million. That said, losses were roughly equivalent to year-earlier levels, coming in at $137 million or $3.40 per share.

What most investors were watching for, though, were season pass results, and Vail Resorts put in a solid performance there as well. Pass sales through Dec. 5 were up 6% in both units and dollar terms, and when you compare them to pre-pandemic levels in the run-up to the 2019 to 2020 North American ski season, pass sales were up 86% in unit terms and 53% in dollar terms.

CEO Kirsten Lynch, who has been instrumental in the company's season pass strategy, was pleased to see more guests make advance commitments, as it means more stable financial results for Vail Resorts. With ongoing efforts to bring more properties into the Epic Pass program, Vail Resorts is in good shape to keep seeing further growth while paying investors an attractive dividend as well.

RH weathers the downturn

Shares of RH were also up about 1.5% in after-hours trading. The home furnishings retailer did see pressure on its top and bottom lines in the fiscal third quarter ending Oct. 29, but the hit wasn't as big as many had feared.

Most of RH's financial metrics deteriorated during the period. Net revenue of $869 million was down 14% from year-ago levels. Gross margin was down almost 2 percentage points to 48.4%, and a sizable jump in operating expenses dealt an even larger hit to the bottom line. Net income of $99 million was down 46% year over year, with earnings coming in at $3.78 per share.

Nevertheless, CEO Gary Friedman remained upbeat in his shareholder letter. With aspirations to join long-standing luxury brands, RH is expanding both the scope and geography of its business through new products across its multiple concepts and new stores in the U.K. and on the continent in Europe. Recent acquisitions will help RH offer upholstery, custom furniture, and editorial content to support the brand.

RH also guided its fiscal 2022 sales outlook to the upper end of its previous range, now expecting revenue to fall 3.5% to 4.5%. That's not ideal, but investors seem to like the fact that upper-crust shoppers are sustaining their buying momentum even in the current economic environment -- and they seem to appreciate Friedman's long-term vision for RH.