As firearm sales continue to set records, ammunition for all the new guns has remained in short supply, even as some companies are running their respective factories on nearly 24/7 production schedules. Supply simply can’t meet the demand, and for shooters that has been bad news, but for the shareholders of the ammunition companies this has been very good indeed.
In its recent earnings call, Vista Outdoors reported fourth quarter and fiscal year 2021 operating results. On Thursday, the company announced a forty percent jump in quarterly sales to $597 million, including a thirty-seven percent increase in shooting sports sales to $403 million. The company reported that its gross profits more than doubled to $182 million the final quarter of fiscal year 2020 (FY20), compared to $85 in the year-ago quarter.
“Strength in our underlying business fundamentals, disciplined strategy execution and favorable consumer trends fueled our outstanding Fiscal Year 2021 results,” said Vista Outdoor Chief Executive Officer Chris Metz.
“We delivered all-time record results for earnings per share, EBIT, and free cash flow as a result of our successful multi-year effort to strengthen our operations and improve profitability,” added Metz. “The demand and order rate for all of our businesses continued to increase each quarter most recently resulting in fourth-quarter sales growth of 40%.”
Metz further explained that the integration of the Remington and HEVI-Shot acquisitions remain ahead of schedule and on track to be accretive to earnings within the next year. Vista Outdoors had purchased Remington’s ammunition business and is running the factory around the clock to meet the demand and reduce backlog. At the same time he acknowledged that while shooters can expect to pay more and are experiencing inflation, Vista Outdoors has not changed its pricing. This comes even as the raw materials have increased and are at the highest point since 2011.
The Great Ammo Shortage Continues
Prices have been driven up as many are buying the ammo as quickly as it reaches stores shelves and then reselling at a higher price.
Rommel Dionisio, gun industry analyst for Aegis Capital, wrote in a report cited by Forbes.com, “The ammunition industry remains capacity constrained, with consumer demand well exceeding available supply.”
There have also been wild conspiracy theories that have circulated online that the ammunition makers are either stockpiling supplies to drive up prices or have been ordered by the government to reduce production – both of which Metz has claimed are utterly and completely false.
Anoka, Minnesota-based Vista Outdoors produces ammunition under the CCI, Federal, Speer, and Remington brands. It produces gun scopes under the Bushnell brand, but also owns non-gun brands including Bell bike helmets and CamelBak hydration products. While CamelBak sales also doubled in the quarter, it is the ammunition business that has seen the largest growth.
How Companies Are Trying to Boost Production
The company expanded its manufacturing capacity for ammunition after it purchased Remington Outdoor for $81 million last October, and has plans to hire more employees to meet the demands of shooters.
“This past year’s performance is a tribute to our team’s excellence as they managed the expanded business and served customers exceptionally well throughout the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Metz. “Looking ahead, 2021 promises to be a year where people continue to recreate and enjoy the outdoors. We enter this year with our highest level of cash flow, our lowest level of debt in years, a powerhouse of outdoor brands, an expanded addressable market, record numbers of passionate advocates for our products, and an expanded commitment to preserve and protect our planet as we bring people outside.”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.