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Whistler Blackcomb second-quarter profit up from year ago, revenue higher

WHISTLER, B.C. - Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc. (TSX:WB) said Wednesday it earned $52 million in its latest quarter as fewer visitors hit the slopes, but those that did spent more.

The ski resort company said the profit amounted to 96 cents per diluted share for the key winter quarter ended March 31, up from $46.1 million or 87 cents per diluted share a year ago.

Resort revenue increased to $138.8 million, up from $132.2 million.

Visits for the quarter totalled 1.3 million, down four per cent from a year ago.

However, revenue per visit for the quarter amounted to $105.88, up about nine per cent due to more spending at the company's retail, rental and ski school businesses, as well as the acquisition of Affinity Sports in 2013.

The effective ticket price also increased 8.9 per cent from a year ago to $58.20.

Whistler Blackcomb president and chief executive Dave Brownlie said challenging early season conditions have contributed to lower skier visits for the season so far.

"The success of our pre-commitment sales strategy and our ability to drive increased revenue per visit, due in large part to a higher proportion of destination visits and strong guest spending in our ancillary businesses, contributed to this exceptional performance," Brownlie said in a statement.

RBC Capital Markets analyst Irene Nattel raised her price target on the company's shares to $19 from $17 following the earnings report.

"Whistler Blackcomb represents an interesting option for investors seeking yield and potential for upside capital appreciation," Nattel wrote in report to clients.

Shares in Whistler Blackcomb, which holds a 75 stake in Whistler Mountain Resort Limited Partnership and Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises Limited Partnership, were up 74 cents at $17.31 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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