Shares in Vista Outdoor Inc., the best-performing Minnesota-based stock in 2020, climbed another 2% Friday, a day after rocketing up 11% on strong quarterly results and near-term outlook.
The Anoka-based company returned to profitability this spring and summer as more people bought gun ammunition and shook off coronavirus-related lockdowns by playing golf or going camping.
And unlike many companies that have stopped forecasting the near future because uncertainties related to the pandemic, Vista Outdoor executives gave an upbeat outlook for the coming months.
“The hard work we have done over the past two years in building a nimble and profitable platform has enabled our brands to capitalize on these outdoor recreation trends,” Chris Metz, the company’s chief executive, said with the release of the results Thursday.
Vista Outdoor said it earned $40.5 million, or 69 cents a share, in the three months that ended June 28, the first quarter of its fiscal year. Its sales rose 4% to $479 million.
Vista Outdoor executives said they expect a similar performance in their second fiscal quarter. They forecast sales in a range of $495 million to $515 million and per-share earnings of 60 cents to 70 cents.
So far this year, Vista Outdoor shares have nearly tripled in value.
The company operates in two business segments, shooting sports and outdoor products.
Shooting sports, which provides ammunition and related products and is the larger business, saw its sales rise 8% and segment profit jump 71%.
Metz noted on the company’s conference call that civil unrest played a role, but not the only one, in increased ammunition sales. Increasing interest in shooting sports and hunting also drove ammunition sales.
“The trends we saw in the back half of last calendar year towards personal protection was well underway before these societal changes, but recent events have accelerated new user recruitment and increased participation,” Metz said.
Revenue in the outdoor products segment was $145 million, down 4% from the same quarter last year. COVID-related closures of retail outlets affected sales of Vista Outdoor’s golf, outside cooking and hydration products initially. But as stores reopened, consumers flocked to embrace the relatively safety of outdoor recreation.
Metz said participation rates in outdoor sports are increasing as the summer wears on.
“The key to increasing participation over the long term is recruitment and the silver lining in the pandemic is that Americans now, more than ever, have reunited and rediscovered outdoor activities,” Metz told analysts. “We believe the structural change is not a three- or six-month blip within our country and lifestyles, but the beginning of a new norm and a way of life.”
Patrick Kennedy • 612-673-7926