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Vista Outdoor is starting to see the results of a turnaround plan put in place by CEO Christopher Metz more than two years ago as its share price shot up nearly 12% Thursday on better than expected third-quarter results.

"Our accelerated transformation plan is on track and is progressing very well," Metz said in a news release.

The Anoka-based parent company to Federal Cartridge and a number of outdoor brands reported results for the third quarter ended Dec. 29, 2019. The company earned $14.6 million, or 25 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $514.6 million, or $8.94 cents per share in the same period a year ago.

The company continued to record restructuring and asset-impairment charges as adjusted EPS rose to 21 cents per share, a 133% increase from 9 cents per share in the third quarter last year. Analysts were expecting adjusted EPS of 13 cents.

Ammunition sales rose 2% in the quarter which helped Vista report total revenue of $425 million. Revenue was down 9% from the third quarter last year but beat analysts' expectations of $419 million.

The adjusted gross margins in both its shooting sports segment and outdoor products segment improved over the third quarter last year, reflecting some of the cost-saving measures of Metz's three-year revival plan.

"Vista Outdoor has been in a turnaround mode since I began more than two years ago," Metz told analysts on the company's earnings call. "The first year and a half was spent meticulously leaning out our overhead structure and reconstituting our brands while laying out new repeatable processes for future success. In the past six months, we've accelerated our pace."

Metz launched a three-year turnaround plan soon after he joined the company in 2017. But on the earnings call, he told analysts there is still work to do. "While I'm pleased with our Q3 results, we still have much more to do to accomplish the goals we set for Vista Outdoor as part of our accelerated transformation plan," Metz said.

Vista shareholders are hoping the stock price can maintain the momentum of Metz's turnaround plan.

The company has exceeded analyst expectations for the second consecutive quarter. After its second-quarter results also beat analyst expectations on Nov. 7, the stock price rose 31% to finish at $9.05 per share, but shares gave back most of those gains over the next three months. Vista shares closed on Thursday at $9.42, up 99 cents per share. Over the last 52 weeks shares have traded between $4.30 and $10.86 per share.

Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926