PORTLAND – American Skiing Co., one of the nation’s largest ski resort companies, on Wednesday posted a loss of $24.2 million in its first quarter but said the company hopes to cut its losses this winter.
The Newry-based company remained optimistic about its prospects for the season.
That optimism is based in part on the fact that skier visits during the Thanksgiving weekend were double those from last year, thanks to good weather conditions coast-to-coast.
“I am excited about our prospects for the coming ski season. Early snowfalls in the West coupled with cold temperatures in the East are yielding strong early-season results,” said Leslie B. Otten, chairman and chief executive officer.
The first quarter of American Skiing’s fiscal year consists of the period from August to October in which its resorts prepare for the season.
Since there are no skiers, the company typically reports a loss during the quarter.
The loss, which amounted to 79 cents per diluted share, marked a 13.6 percent improvement over a loss of $28 million, or 92 cents per diluted share, during the same period in the previous fiscal year.
The first-quarter loss would have been slightly higher, but the company’s figures included a $2.5 million tax benefit.
American Skiing has had a difficult time since it went public in November 1997.
Investors in the company have shown little faith that it will soon recover.
The stock has fallen from an initial price of $18 a share to $2.75 a share at the close of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.
In the summer of 1999, the company received a $150 million investment, enabling it to pay off debt and finance real estate projects.
The company finished its last fiscal year with a loss of $32.3 million after a winter marked by lower-than-average snowfall.
The company is counting on a big season to lift it from its doldrums, and Otten said he hopes the trend established during the Thanksgiving weekend will continue if the weather continues to cooperate.
“With a return to more normal weather conditions, we are beginning to reap the benefits of investments we have made in our resorts over the last few years,” Otten said in a statement.
American Skiing’s resorts include Killington, Mount Snow and Sugarbush in Vermont; Sunday River and Sugarloaf USA in Maine; Attitash Bear Peak in New Hampshire; Steamboat in Colorado; The Canyons in Utah; and Heavenly in California and Nevada.