U.S. Markets closed

Edited Transcript of SKIS earnings conference call or presentation 13-Mar-19 2:00pm GMT

Q3 2019 Peak Resorts Inc Earnings Call

Park City May 14, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Peak Resorts Inc earnings conference call or presentation Wednesday, March 13, 2019 at 2:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

================================================================================

Corporate Participants

================================================================================

* Christopher J. Bub

Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP, CFO & Corporate Secretary

* Jesse K. Boyd

Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP of Operations

* Timothy D. Boyd

Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President

================================================================================

Conference Call Participants

================================================================================

* Brad J. Boyer

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst

* Ted Blake

Geode Capital Management, LLC - Portfolio Manager

* James Leahy

================================================================================

Presentation

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good morning. My name is Denise, and I'll be your conference operator today. At this time, I'd like to welcome everyone to the Peak Resorts Fiscal Third Quarter 2019 Earnings Conference Call. (Operator Instructions)

Jim Leahy from JCIR, you may begin your conference.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

James Leahy, [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, operator, and good morning, everyone. Thanks for joining the Peak Resorts Fiscal 2019 Third Quarter Conference Call. On the call with me today are Tim Boyd, President and CEO; Chris Bub, Vice President and CFO; and Jesse Boyd, VP of Operations. After this introduction, management will offer some thoughts on the fiscal 2019 third quarter results as well as the company's outlook for the remainder of the 2018/'19 ski season before opening the call for questions. We'll get started in just a minute with management's presentation and comments, but before doing so, let me read the safe harbor disclosure.

Today's conference call contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the safe harbor provision of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as anticipate, intend, plan, goal, believe, estimate, expect, future, likely, may, should, will and other similar references to future periods. Examples of forward-looking statements include among others, statements we make regarding guidance relating to revenue and reported EBITDA; expected operating results, such as revenue growth and profitability; cash balances; market demand; cost efficiencies; and financial results. Forward-looking statements are neither historical facts nor assurance of future performance. Instead, they are based only on our current beliefs, expectations and assumptions regarding the future of our business, future plans and strategies, projections, anticipated events and trends, the economy and other future conditions. Because forward-looking statements relate to the future, they are subject to inherent uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict and many of which are outside of our control. Our actual results and financial condition may differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements. Therefore, you should not rely on any of these forward-looking statements.

Important factors that could cause our actual results and financial conditions to differ materially from those indicated in the forward-looking statements today include, among others, the risks described in today's news announcement and in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the company's reports on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q. Any forward-looking statement made by us in today's conference call is based solely on information currently available to us and speaks only as of the date on which it is made. We undertake no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statement that may be made from time to time, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise.

Today's call and webcast will also include non-GAAP financial measures within the meaning of SEC Regulation G. When required, a reconciliation of all non-GAAP financial measures to the most directly comparable financial measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP can be found in today's press release as well as on the company's website.

With that, I'd like to turn the call over to Mr. Tim Boyd, President and CEO of Peak Resorts. Please go ahead, Tim.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks, Jim, and good morning, everyone. I'd like to thank everybody for joining us on the call today to review our fiscal 2019 third quarter results. Joining me today is Chris Bub, our CFO; and Jesse Boyd, our VP of Operations.

In the third quarter of fiscal 2019, Peak Resorts generated an all-time record quarterly revenue and reported EBITDA, thanks to our increased scale as a result of the Snow Time acquisition as well as from our efforts to operate more efficiently across all 17 of our resorts. Our revenue grew by 42% to $84 million, while our reported EBITDA grew by 46% to $30.7 million.

We're very pleased with the performance across all aspects of our business as we've dealt with rather average weather conditions in both the Midwest and the Northeast so far. Our 2018/2019 ski season got off to its earliest start ever as we were able to open Mount Snow and Wildcat on October 27, thanks to favorable late fall conditions that included some cold air and natural snowfall, which highlighted our ongoing investments in snowmaking systems that allow for extended seasons and the preservation and improvement of our conditions. Mount Snow opened with the most skiable terrain in the East as the enhancements we've made in our snowmaking at the resort, including the West Lake project and our ongoing purchasing of efficient snowmaking guns, allowed us to take advantage of the favorable early season conditions. Wildcat opened with the most vertical skiing in the East, also a result of early natural snowfall and the efforts of our snowmaking team.

Following those openings, our New York, Vermont and New Hampshire resorts provided guests with good terrain conditions, while warmer early winter weather in Pennsylvania and the Midwest drove a slightly slower start to our operations.

Regardless of the ups and downs with regards to the weather, we entered the Christmas and New Year holiday season in relatively good shape, and conditions have only improved as we've moved into 2019. It's important to emphasize that the 2018/'19 ski season has seen largely normal weather with typical freeze/thaw cycles and some periodic rain, which have been offset by our talented snowmaking and grooming teams as they've effectively resurfaced our terrain and added to our snow base.

On a more positive note, occasional snow events and several periods of deep cold helped to improve and maintain conditions and created some great powder days at many of our resorts. Ultimately, we've gotten to the point where our operations and social media teams have created a truly educated base of guests who know that they can expect a certain level of conditions and enjoy a world-class experience regardless of the weather. They also know that if they should decide to drive to one of our resorts or one of our great resort towns, they'll be welcomed by some of the best terrain in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Midwest.

Now turning to our Peak Pass. A growing awareness and acceptance of our unique multi-mountain season pass remains very encouraging and a key source of our overall success. As we noted in late December, our total Peak Pass sales for the 2018/'19 season were up year-over-year by approximately 18% on a unit basis and by approximately 20% on a revenue basis. And our all-important Drifter Pass for the 18- to 29-year old demographic generated sales growth of 27% on both a revenue and a unit basis over the prior year. It's important to remember that the '18/'19 season was just our third season for the Peak Pass. I'm confident that with the Peak Pass on sale for the 2019/'20 season, that we will only get smarter with our season pass sales initiatives, including our go-to-market strategy, our data analytics, our attribution and our pass mix.

I also want to add one further comment on the Peak Pass. Since we introduced the pass, we've been frequently asked about the competitive multi-mountain passes that entered on [RP's] backyard through high-profile partnerships and through mountain acquisitions. We've been told that these competitive incursions would negatively impact our ability to grow the Peak Pass sales, and we've been asked whether or not our customers, when presented with another place to spend their dollars, would abandon the Peak Pass. I think it's safe to say that the facts reflect that the worries have been and remain completely unfounded. We've sold more Peak Pass units each year, and I would expect that trend to continue this coming year. We've done that while adding new mountains to the pass and while keeping pricing to a point where I believe that Peak Pass is the value leader in the space, especially in the Northeast.

I'm completely confident that we have the right mountain assets, the right amenities, the right pass offerings and, most importantly, great geographic positioning adjacent to major metropolitan markets to continue to grow our business. Peak Resorts is in a dramatically better position today with a dramatically better business, and we have much to be proud of.

As we look ahead, our Peak Pass continues to grow share across the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic and we'll now expand it into the Midwest. Our snowmaking investments and investments in new facilities have enhanced our resorts and driven visitation over the past couple of seasons. The Hunter North expansion has transformed Hunter Mountain and has attracted new skiers and riders to what is truly the jewel of Catskills. Our decision to exit the Attitash Hotel has not impacted our business at Attitash and has actually improved our overall financial performance at the resort. And most importantly, the acquisition of Snow Time is coming together nicely, and our newest Southern Pennsylvania resorts are proving to be a great addition to our mountain portfolio, with their inclusion on the Peak Pass for the 2019/'20 the next step in their evolution.

All of this culminates in what are dramatically improved results and a foundation for long-term growth which should ultimately deliver enhanced value for our shareholders over the coming quarters and years. The entire Peak Resorts team deserves our gratitude for their continued hard work, and I thank them for their dedication to providing our guests with a great experience each time they visit one of our resorts.

Now with that, I'm going to turn the call over to Jesse for some additional comments on the season and last week's announcement regarding our 2019/'20 Peak Pass offerings. Jess?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jesse K. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP of Operations [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks, Tim. Before handing the call over to Chris for a review of our financials, I wanted to briefly comment on the Peak Pass for the 2019/2020 season and provide a bit more color on our to-date season operations.

Last week, we announced the 2019/2020 Peak Pass season pass program. All of our pass options returned for the upcoming season, and importantly, we are expanding access under the Peak Pass to Liberty, Roundtop and Whitetail in Pennsylvania and to our Ohio resorts for the first time. Since adding Snow Time to our resort portfolio earlier this season, we have seen guests from the Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas visiting our other Pennsylvania resorts, visiting Hunter Mountain and even visiting our resorts in New England, as they seek to experience a broader array of our mountains. This is a sign of what we believe are good things to come as we drive increased Peak Pass growth.

Last week's announcement also included the exciting news that current and future guests are being given the chance to buy their passes for the 2019/2020 season at the 2018/2019 prices through the April 30 spring window. The decision to keep initial pricing flat clearly demonstrates to our guests that we value their loyalty and that we are committed to continue providing them with the simplest unlimited multi-mountain season pass product on the mountain, all at a great value. Early sales trends for the Peak Pass appear to be proving out our thesis, and we will have more to say on sales success going forward.

Once the April 30 spring window closes, prices will rise across all of our pass options during the Drifter Pass for the 18- to 29-year old guests. The Drifter Pass has been one of our most popular offerings, and we believe that even with a 5% price increase to $420, its compelling value proposition remains firmly intact and that it will continue to attract significant numbers of guests who are establishing their long-term skiing habits.

As Tim mentioned, our ability to showcase consistent conditions has resulted in a good start to the 2018/2019 ski season, and I'd like to highlight trends at our flagship properties where the debut of on-mountain amenities and enhanced terrain has resulted in a very strong to-date visitation, proving out the investment case behind projects such as West Lake, Carinthia and Hunter North. The investments at Mount Snow have been very well received by guests, who have packed the new cafeteria and sit-down restaurant during the day and taken advantage of the new F&B offerings for aprés-ski entertainment.

We've also seen that the expanding parking has been a hit for our guests, particularly on weekends, as they have quickly come to appreciate the elevated arrival experience that our new Carinthia base area provides. Our visitation metrics further reflect that enthusiasm as we were up year-over-year at Mount Snow. We believe this growth demonstrates that Mount Snow continues to take share in the strategically important Vermont market. We have also had some of our largest ever attendance days at Hunter this season, and guests have found that the added parking, increased uphill capacity thanks to the new 6-passenger lift and expanded terrain have better spread out that visitation across the mountain, improving the overall experience. It is clear that the Hunter North expansion has dramatically transformed the way guests experience Hunter Mountain.

As we look forward, our work to invest in our resorts to drive further improvement in the overall guest experience will continue. In season and during the summer, our teams refine and enhance our F&B outlets, improve and expand our snowmaking, add to our grooming and trail maintenance capabilities, modernize and update our rental fleet, create more compelling family and beginner focused guest experiences across our ski schools and further the addition of new technology across the business. While many of these efforts happen behind the scenes, they are vital to our long-term success, and we are confident that our guests will appreciate our commitment to exceed their expectations.

With that, I will now turn the call over to Chris Bub to review our financial results in greater detail. Chris?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Christopher J. Bub, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP, CFO & Corporate Secretary [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks, Jesse, and good morning, everyone. Fiscal 2019 third quarter revenue reached a record $84 million, an increase of 42% from $59.3 million in the comparable prior year quarter. While the inclusion of Snow Time in the quarter was the biggest driver of our year-over-year growth, we are pleased to report organic growth of roughly 10%.

Revenue growth was driven across all of our revenue categories. We saw a 44% increase in lift and tubing tickets, 46% in food and beverage, a 19% increase in equipment rental revenue, a 54% increase in ski instruction revenue and a 44% increase in retail revenue. And importantly, we generated broad-based organic growth across the business and across our geographies.

The resort operating costs increased 36% or $13.1 million to $49 million for the fiscal 2019 third quarter. Excluding Snow Time, resort operating costs would have grown by roughly 5% year-over-year. Labor costs were up 29% year-over-year, driven entirely by the inclusion of Snow Time in our financial results. In fact, on an organic basis, labor costs were down versus the prior year period as we benefited from the removal of the Attitash Hotel from our operating results as well as from our diligent management of headcount and resources through better timing of seasonal hiring through resort opening dates. A 52% year-over-year increase in power and utilities expense was driven primarily by the inclusion of our Snow Time properties. Additionally, we made consistent efforts to resurface terrain at our largest resorts and as a result of some challenging weather patterns, including frequent periods of rain and higher temperatures. Other resort operating costs were up 51% due to the inclusion of Snow Time, higher insurance costs, our investment in several new groomers and increased sales commissions.

Before we move on, and just to provide a bit more color, our resort operating costs relative to our top line result represented 58% of revenue in the fiscal 2019 third quarter. This is compared to 61% last year and 60% in the third quarter of fiscal 2017. Both general and administrative and depreciation and amortization expenses roughly doubled in the fiscal 2019 third quarter to $3.3 million and $6.8 million, respectively. While Snow Time drove most of the increase, depreciation grew as a result of the completion of the Carinthia Lodge and Hunter North projects. G&A was up due to onetime acquisition costs as well as increased performance-based compensation. Income taxes were roughly $5.6 million in fiscal 2019's third quarter compared to $3.4 million in the prior year period, with the increase almost entirely related to the inclusion of Snow Time. Our tax rate for the quarter was 29% compared to 27.2% a year ago.

For the fiscal 2019 third quarter, Peak Resorts generated record reported EBITDA of $30.7 million compared to a reported EBITDA of $21 million in the year-ago period. As with our revenue performance for the quarter, while the inclusion of Snow Time was the biggest driver of year-over-year growth, we saw reported EBITDA grow by approximately 10% on an organic basis.

Turning to our financial condition, as of January 31, 2019, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $27.2 million and total outstanding debt of $230.6 million, including $12.4 million drawn against our revolving line of credit and long-term debt of $218.2 million. Interest expense of $4.5 million for the fiscal 2019 third quarter was up by about $900,000 compared to the prior fiscal third quarter on lower capitalized interest and the inclusion of the new Cap 1 debt related to the Snow Time acquisition. We allocated $11.1 million to capital expenditures in fiscal 2019's third quarter, including $4.6 million related to the Hunter Mountain expansion, $2.7 million related to the Carinthia Base Lodge project and $300,000 to the Hidden Valley zip tool project. The maintenance capital was approximately $3.5 million in the quarter.

In summary, we remain in a healthy financial position thanks to our team's ongoing efforts to drive efficient operations across the business while seamlessly integrating the Snow Time assets into our portfolio during what is our busiest season. We have also completed our major capital investment projects at Mount Snow and Hunter Mountain, which will reduce our capital spending need moving forward. We are confident that our financial flexibility will allow Peak Resorts to continue investing in the guest experience while exploring new M&A transactions which will further add to our already increased scale. We are excited by the future of our business, and we look forward to delivering increased shareholder value while exceeding our guests' expectations each and every day.

With that, let's turn the call over to the operator for questions. Operator?

================================================================================

Questions and Answers

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [1]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from [Gregory Carvel] with [Carvel Corp.].

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Participant, [2]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm a customer and an investor. I might add that I'm a very happy customer of the Mount Snow resort, which I think you guys have done an excellent job. But I have 2 questions. Have you factored in, in your revenue analysis, the impact of the closing of the Hermitage Resort on incremental revenues?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Christopher J. Bub, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP, CFO & Corporate Secretary [3]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm sorry, could you repeat that? The closure of -- can you say that one more time? I'm sorry; I had a hard time hearing that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Participant, [4]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The closure of the Hermitage, which is right next door, and there are a lot of skiers. And I know that they transferred over to Mount Snow.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jesse K. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP of Operations [5]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, this is Jesse. Yes, we saw that a little bit last year. I don't think it's helped us very much. I think there are some people from the Hermitage that are skiing at Mount Snow, but I do think a lot of the people that were Hermitage members were already Mount Snow pass holders as well.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Participant, [6]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So not a meaningful increase in revenues.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jesse K. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP of Operations [7]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

No. No, it's not.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Participant, [8]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The next question is I noticed that your business is highly capital-intensive but you pay a dividend, and I was curious as to the rationale.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [9]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, one of the reasons for that -- we started off paying a dividend was we felt that it was important from a growth standpoint as we explored acquisitions that we were never actually forced to make acquisitions just to be making acquisitions. It's really a way to return capital to our shareholders and on a patient basis until we can do what we believe to be accretive acquisitions. So it was a strategy that we established when we came out as a public company and was mainly to add some more discipline to our M&A as much as anything else.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Participant, [10]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not sure I follow that the paying of dividend adds to M&A activity.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [11]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, it keeps us more disciplined, because we're not under pressure to go out and just make acquisitions to be making acquisitions. We return capital to our shareholders on an ongoing basis and give them a return. And then that way, they're not -- it keeps them on a more patient basis on our M&A front, I should say.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Participant, [12]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. I mean, that's certainly an explanation, I guess. From my perspective, reducing debt which provides for more availability to fund future capital expenditures might be a more appropriate use of dividends. But this is entirely, obviously, up to the management's discretion.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [13]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [14]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Operator Instructions) Your next question comes from Ted Blake with Geode.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ted Blake, Geode Capital Management, LLC - Portfolio Manager [15]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about the summit lift at Attitash and the impact that's had on the mountain revenue up there and your outlook for that going forward.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [16]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, we've been in a repair mode on that lift through the last couple of weeks. We had a planetary go out in the bottom of that chairlift, so we are in the process of repairing it. In terms of the impact on Attitash, it basically services the very top of the Attitash Mountain, about 15% of our skiable acreage, so it hasn't had a big impact on our operations there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ted Blake, Geode Capital Management, LLC - Portfolio Manager [17]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And then I guess you guys talked about looking at, now that the CapEx cycle at Mount Snow and Hunter is sort of coming to a close, you guys mentioned M&A as sort of something you're still looking at. Are there growth CapEx or maintenance CapEx projects at any of the existing resorts that you think merit investment?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [18]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. We still have some organic growth projects that we are looking at, at this point in time. A lot of them are centered on snowmaking enhancements that we think can give us a quick ROI. But at this point in time, those are still in the planning stages, and we expect to have more information that we will be putting out probably in the next quarter on that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ted Blake, Geode Capital Management, LLC - Portfolio Manager [19]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And then, I guess just to dovetail on the last question about dividend, how do you guys weigh the sort of -- I guess, what do you view your cost of capital to be on, for example, the Snow Time acquisition?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [20]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In terms of?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ted Blake, Geode Capital Management, LLC - Portfolio Manager [21]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Optically, the financing that you guys utilized, it isn't the cheapest financing I've ever seen. And when you factor in the dilution from the warrants, I could see why people might think that paying down debt as a -- and maybe funding future acquisitions with equity rather than -- or lower-cost debt because you've delevered might be prudent before ponying up another $50 million for the acquisitions.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [22]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, I think that, that's certainly a valid question, and that's that, internally, we are working on. We are working on doing some deleveraging on our balance sheet. That is certainly a goal of ours. The Snow Time acquisition and the stepping up of Summer Road to get that done for us on a short-term basis has actually given us some time on a more orderly time scale to address that balance sheet issue and address some restructuring on our financing that we are in the process of doing at this point in time, but we're just not ready to announce anything yet.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [23]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your next question comes from Brad Boyer with Stifel.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brad J. Boyer, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst [24]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm in a little bit of a Utah snowstorm here, so bear with me if I get disconnected. Just a quick question around Snow Time. Obviously, you've been operating the assets for the bulk of this ski season. Just curious as to any learnings there, and any cost savings opportunities you guys may have unlocked early days just as you've taken over operations there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [25]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. I think that we've had a chance to look at their operations. We think that, yes, there's definitely some opportunities there. We really think there's some opportunities on the snowmaking side. Those are great resorts, but we think that there's some real opportunities for us to enhance their snowmaking capabilities. And in those particular markets, with those particular resorts, it's really all about supply. And we think that there's going to be some opportunities that we're working on right now internally to improve the snowmaking platform across all 3 of those resorts, which will certainly improve the visitation.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brad J. Boyer, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst [26]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay, that's helpful. And then a question for you, Chris, just around the balance sheet. Some of the prepayable debt balances, I would assume given that you're in sort of this seasonally high cash generation cycle, that you may look to repay some of that. I'm just curious kind of how you envision leverage trending from here as we move through -- ski season is kind of nearing its end. But should we expect to see any move there in the revolver or anything like that in the near term?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Christopher J. Bub, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP, CFO & Corporate Secretary [27]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Truthfully, what we want to do is we want to wait to see how the entire season finishes up. Obviously, we're hopeful that the season continues the way the third quarter did. But until we know with the full season. And to that point, we'll assess sort of where our cash needs are at. Obviously, by the end of March, we'll have repaid all of our interest for the next year with our main primary lenders. And at that point, we can establish what our capital needs are for the next year. And then, yes, if we have excess cash sitting around, obviously, we would go after some of that debt that's prepayable.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brad J. Boyer, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst [28]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And then that basically answers my next question then. So, I mean at this point, the capital plan for next year is not really fully in place. Is that fair? Or do you have a sense of what CapEx may look like next year?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [29]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. I think from that standpoint, Brad, that's still in flux because we are looking at some different options of what we want to do at some of our resorts in terms of both maintenance CapEx -- not so much maintenance CapEx but potential growth CapEx opportunities that we think are there.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Brad J. Boyer, Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated, Research Division - Analyst [30]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay, helpful. And then the last one, I guess this one's probably best for Jesse, but we've seen a lot of labor cost pressure throughout sort of the leisure space, particularly in seasonal labor industries. It looks like you guys are doing a fairly decent job of mitigating any pressures there. Just curious if there's anything you wanted to highlight there with respect to kind of helping keep the labor costs in check.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Jesse K. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP of Operations [31]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, it's just a lot of our crews being as diligent as they can to keep costs down. We're still seeing wage pressure, in New York and Vermont specifically, and we're going to continue to see that, I'm afraid, at least for the next few years with the minimum wage going up in both those states. But it's just generally our teams are doing a better job making sure that we're controlling those costs the best we can.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [32]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Your next question comes from [Barton Crockett] with [DSF Stocks].

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [33]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It's [DCF Stocks]. I was wondering if you guys could tell us a little bit about the trends in the 1.5 months or so after the close of the quarter but still here in the heart of the season, are things meaningfully different from what we saw in the fiscal third quarter so far in February and the first part of March?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [34]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, I think at this point in time, we still have about 1.5 months left of the season. But up to this point, things have been trending solid. We haven't seen a lot of difference in the performance up to this point, but we still have these last 6 weeks left to go, Barton.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Christopher J. Bub, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP, CFO & Corporate Secretary [35]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And Barton, one thing to keep in mind, too, is as we move into March, if you remember last year, that was a miracle month. We had a ton of snowfall and really had a rebound on the performance at the end of the year. So as we get into March, the comparables become a little bit harder just because we had a strong March last year.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [36]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. All right. And then also on pricing, I think last year, you guys talked about your expectations to use pricing to offset labor and cost inflation. This year, you're starting with kind of flat pricing on the Peak Pass and maybe a little bit of a bump after April 30. Overall, as we look ahead to next season, are you prepared to make a statement about how you see your effective pricing over the season trending?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [37]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it's a little early yet for that. However, I think to understand the pricing that we've done with the Peak Pass in this first stage, it's really more of a tip to the Snow Time market. We're transitioning that market to the Peak Pass, so it's a little bit of a step up in price for those folks. So we wanted to give them an opportunity, especially this first deadline, to upgrade to that new pass without as steep of a price increase as they would have experienced if we increased the price like we're going to in the second and third deadlines. So that's the kind of the reasoning behind that. And up to this point, we've seen some very positive results from all that.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Unidentified Analyst, [38]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Okay. And then one final question here. You guys spoke about 10%, I think, organic growth in the quarter. Could you give us a sense of was that pretty similar across your resorts? Or was there a lot of variability? Maybe the growth just came from the places with the investments, and it was a different story elsewhere. Can you give us some color there?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Christopher J. Bub, Peak Resorts, Inc. - VP, CFO & Corporate Secretary [39]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, you're exactly right. So we did see significant growth, specifically at Mount Hill and Hunter. I think the investments we made, specifically with the snowmaking last year and the lodge this year and then the expansion at Hunter North, those all contributed to significant growth there. But we did see growth across all of our geography. It was just more highly concentrated up in Mount Snow and Hunter because of the investments.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [40]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There are no further questions queued up at this time. I'll turn the call back over to Mr. Boyd for closing remarks.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Timothy D. Boyd, Peak Resorts, Inc. - Chairman, CEO & President [41]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thank you, operator. With approximately 6 weeks remaining in the '18/'19 ski season, conditions at our resorts in the Midwest and Northeast remain very good, and visitation remains healthy. That said, we're always predictably cautious about what March and April will bring given the late winter weather patterns that can bring variable conditions, significantly impacting our terrain conditions. What we can promise is that we'll be managing our operations in the coming months in such a way that we capture whatever Mother Nature throws at us in the most profitable fashion that we can. Sitting here today, we also believe that Peak's positioning has never been better. Our investments in on-mountain amenities, terrain and behind-the-scenes equipment have driven more predictable conditions and an enhanced experience, attracting more guests than ever before. At the same time, the addition of Snow Time has scaled up our business and added to our portfolio 3 very attractive mountain assets that further expand our geographic reach to important metropolitan areas in the mid-Atlantic, and they improved the value access proposition of the Peak Pass for the upcoming 2019 and 2020 season.

If you have any other questions or need any additional information, please contact our Investor Relations firm, JCIR, at (212) 835-8500. Thank you very much, and we look forward to speaking to you on our next quarterly call. Thanks.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Operator [42]

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This concludes today's conference call. You may now disconnect.