COVID-19  March 10, 2020

Vail withdraws 2020 financial guidance after state’s first coronavirus patient discovered at resort

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BROOMFIELD — Vail Corp. (NYSE: MTN) withdrew its 2020 projections after a skier became the first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus in Colorado amid larger worries that the virus will hamper the greater travel industry.

In the company’s earnings call Monday, CEO Rob Katz said there’s been a “marked negative change” in visitor numbers after Colorado health officials quarantined a man on March 3. The man had been skiing on Vail Mountain and Keystone Resort two weekends ago, but did not display flu-like symptoms during the trip.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control believes the virus is most contagious when people are actually ill, but there is still risk that it spreads from people who don’t display symptoms.

Vail reported revenues of $924.64 million in the previous quarter and $5.04 in earnings per share, missing Wall Street estimates by $28.22 million and 41 cents, according to Seeking Alpha data.

The spread of the coronavirus around the world has particularly hammered travel and leisure stocks over the past several weeks. Vail’s stock price has plunged 30 percent between Feb. 21’s closing price of $251.67 and Monday’s close of $174.

White House Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow told CNBC Friday the Trump Administration was in early discussions about a “timely and targeted” tax deferment for travel and airline companies, but didn’t say how much those cuts would be worth or how the executive branch could make a tax policy change unilaterally.

President Donald Trump alluded to “working with” airlines, hotels and the cruise ship companies in a press conference Monday but didn’t provide further details before saying he would ask Congress to pass a payroll tax cut.

It’s not clear if fears of the COVID-19 virus spreading will hamper tourism in the state, particularly if the disease persists through peak travel dates during the summer.

Abby Leeper, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Tourism Office, said the office is monitoring the outbreak along with other state agencies, but can’t make a determination if the virus will have an impact on travel to the state. She advised travelers to double check for information on local infections or guidance from officials before departing.

“We’re working around the clock to make sure that we’re getting all the same information and that we are providing that information to travelers as well,” she said.

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