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Vista Outdoor reports $52.3 million first-quarter loss

Vista Outdoor lost $52.3 million during the three-month period that ended July 1, according to an earnings report released Thursday.

The loss continues a trend that started in the company’s most recent fiscal year, which ended with a loss of $60.2 million.

Vista’s stock price was $18.92 per share Thursday, compared with a per-share price that has ranged from $12.36 to $24.83 in the last year.

“Despite the improvement in certain ammunition categories, the overall ammunition market continues to vary week to week and month to month,” said Vista CEO Chris Metz in a conference call for analysts after the release of the first-quarter results.

“Though we believe we have reached the bottom, we have yet to see evidence of a sustainable recovery,” Metz said.

Vista is facing the aftermath of a decline in demand for ammunition that followed the election of Donald Trump as president. That changed buying patterns, Metz said, leaving some retailers so hesitant they have been out of stock of certain Vista products.

“They’re more prone to order a little bit lighter than they have in the past,” he said.

The soft demand is hitting rimfire ammunition, one of the products Vista manufactures in Lewiston, where it debuted a new $35 million plant for that type of cartridge last year.

“We don’t see the underlying shooting trends in rimfire decreasing,” Metz said. “In fact, they are as strong as they have been. There’s a bit more capacity in the marketplace because of the run-up in years past.”

Vista is taking a number of approaches to bolster its performance and is carefully examining its supply chain, looking for savings and “improving direct labor costs” at its factories, Metz said.

How that is affecting Lewiston is not clear. Vista had 1,284 Lewiston employees in March and now has “more than 1,200 employees,” said Vista spokeswoman Amanda Covington.

The company is generally avoiding offering discounts to boost sales, instead relying on quality and brand loyalty to push sales of its products, Metz said.

“You might see a little bit of switch here and there with lower prices on some of the calibers, but in total we have been able to maintain share because we are looked at as the best broad-range supplier.”

The company also is shifting its focus in a previously announced plan. It will maintain ammunition, CamelBak hydration systems, Camp Chef stoves and hunting accessories while exploring “strategic options” for subsidiaries that make guns, paddleboards and equipment for bicycling and skiing.

As part of that strategy, Vista reached a deal in July to sell the eyewear brands Bolle, Cebe and Serengeti for $158 million.

The company expects to share more about its plans for other brands it no longer considers part of its core business in about six months.


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