One of the best ways to develop a picture of any company is the SWOT analysis -- a look at a company's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Today, we'll focus on Vail Resorts (NYSE: MTN), the company behind the Vail Mountain and Breckenridge resorts, among others.

Strengths

  • Brand -- five of the company's world-class resorts are among the top 10 most-visited resorts in the U.S., and they consistently earn top rankings in industry publications.
  • Significant barriers to entry for would-be competitors.
  • Real estate holdings in highly desirable areas (Colorado, Tahoe, Wyoming, etc.)
  • Loyal customer base (season pass holders increased year over year).
Adult and child on a ski lift with trees and hill in background

Image source: Getty Images.

Weaknesses

  • Expensive resort operations (lift services, grooming, trail maintenance).
  • Heavy reliance on mountain segment success (nearly 65% of sales).
  • Dependent upon a seasonal workforce.

Opportunities

  • Increase ownership of existing resorts.
  • Continued real estate development.
  • Continued innovation in resort operations.

Threats

  • Difficult economic environments that strain discretionary spending.
  • Weather -- short winters (or little snow).
  • Reliance on government permits and strict adherence to environmental laws and regulations.
  • Small supply of available property to develop new resorts.

Danny Hsia does not own shares of Vail Resorts. Vail Resorts is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems pick. The Fool owns shares of Vail Resorts. Read about the Fool's disclosure policy here.