The Business A 25-year-old ski resort, with 30 runs across 2,000 acres, on the sunny side of the Cascades -- a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Seattle, and 12 miles from Wenatchee, Wash., the Apple-growing Capital of the World. Lift tickets account for 60% of revenues; the rest comes from food, a ski school, and ski rentals. The mountain relies mostly on natural snow and usually operates from December to April.

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Financial Summary 1989 1990 1991

Gross revenues $1.28 mil. $1.03 mil. $1.08 mil.

Recast earnings before $27,500 ($182,000) ($242,000)

interest, taxes, depreciation,

and owner compensation

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Price Best offer

Outlook Ski resorts today do well, say experts, to operate at 33% of capacity, and at the current seasonal pace of 57,000 skier visits, this mountain is in the 20% range -- compared with 30%, three years ago. There are about half a dozen ski mountains closer to Seattle, but this one, by virtue of its Eastern Cascade location, boasts significantly more sunshine and fluffier, drier snow. One problem: the mountain has no lodging, and it needs it to become the kind of destination resort that can keep up with competitors. Current ownership is looking for a deep-pocketed buyer who will make the $6-million to $8-million investment necessary to effect the transformation.

Price Rationale Best offer, eh? Well, ski-mountain-valuation methods vary; insiders say skier-visit multiples start at $20 ($20 x 57,000 skiers $1.1 million) and have exceeded $100 for trophy resorts. Cash-flow multiples typically range from five to eight. In any event, those models lose relevance when a mountain's on the skids and it's a buyer's "vision" (willingness to drop major coin for a possibly chimerical return) that counts. Shooting from the hip, the owners originally quoted $500,000 (plus assumption of $350,000 in long-term debt, plus investment promises), but they'll talk with anyone who'll pledge to preserve their mountain.

Pros Colossal growth potential in a very pretty part of the world. Possible motto: Driest Snow in the Northwest.

Cons Vision, when conjuring the future of a fixer-upper like this, is rarely 20/20. -- Alessandra Bianchi

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Inc. has no stake in the sale of the business featured. The magazine cannot confirm the accuracy of financial or other information offered by the seller. Inquiries should be directed to Larry Klaas, 509-663-1827. n