LTM's greed is gonna catch up with them. Rather than keeping rates affordable, they jack prices during positive swings in the economy and cash out ridiculous stock options, and are still acquiring clubs rather than build new to differentiate.
Another thing: LTM's upper management is mostly inexperienced lifers who have come ground-up with the company, and have no other experience. They don't know what they're doing and aren't looking for outside help (besides the new COO who was taken from Grand Holdings, who came to help take them public). Watch... it'll catch up with them.
Lifetime's management should be commended for superior performance. I can't even believe you are questioning the management capabilites of a group that has never missed earnings estimates and is growing more than 25%. Wow, if that's not impressive, I don't know what is. As for the increased dues, I've been a member for just under 3 years and just recently had my dues raised a whole $3 a month. I would say that's pretty fair compared to a contract model where you could pay an additional $10 after your contract expires in a year.
Agreed that the overly opportunistic pricing strategies will haunt them. In the MN market, clubs a few miles away have very different rates. Many times the higher rates don't necessarily follow the amenities, but the population density. A 'market will bear' approach works well in upswings, but can make a downswing somewhat more painful than it should be.
Buying clubs? Disagree here. The Northwest was an opportunistic acquisition. Other than that, the majority of their new clubs for the past 10 years have been company built (or freshly built-out in a lease deal).
What other management team would you have in place than the one's that helped build a differentiated experience from the ground up? Bally's execs? If you want to built a contract-based finance company. Many of the long-term employees followed BA from US Swim, etc.
Again, I do agree that the company is more focused on short-term options gains than longer-term guest experiences and retaining quality employees. But I do give them credit on the expansion and management front.