Ammunition Shakeup: 3 Ammo Stocks to Watch as Vista Outdoor Unloads Its Business

Stock Market

One of the largest ammunition manufacturers in the U.S. is about to sell its shooting sports business, but the deal isn’t going smoothly. Amid national security concerns and competing bids for the business, Vista Outdoor‘s (NYSE:VSTO) plan to split in two is suddenly very complicated and roiling the market for ammo stocks.

Although the industry has occasionally suffered from shortages, some of them for an extended period, ammo has largely returned to normalcy after the pandemic. With a presidential election looming this year, however, ammo sales will likely skyrocket along with firearms, just as in the two previous elections. 

That makes Vista’s ammo business sale all the more important. So, with that as a backdrop, let’s look at three leading ammo stocks today.

Vista Outdoor (VSTO)

The ammo industry can’t be looked at without examining Vista Outdoor itself. The shooting sports and outdoor gear company has been angling to split in two for several years. It wants to separate its Kinetic Group shooting sports unit from its Revelyst outdoor gear business. The original plan was to split into two separately traded companies, much the way outdoor lifestyle company American Outdoor Brands (NASDAQ:AOUT) spun off its firearms division into Smith & Wesson Brands (NASDAQ:SWBI) .

However, last October, Prague-based Czechoslovak Group offered to buy Kinetic for $1.9 billion, allowing Revelyst to go ahead with its spinoff. Earlier this month, though, MNC Capital offered to buy the entire company, Revelyst included, for $2.9 billion. Vista rejected the offer as undervaluing the company, and MNC returned last week with an improved all-cash offer of $3 billion.

MNC notes its offer keeps both businesses in the U.S. As a result, the deal wouldn’t need approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) over potential national security issues. Vista says it is certain the deal with Czechoslovak Group will receive CFIUS approval. However, Vista is a major U.S. military and law enforcement supplier. It owns ammo brands like Federal, Remington, Speer and others. At least one U.S. senator has raised concerns about the deal. 

Regardless of the company’s offer, VSTO stock will no longer be available.

Olin (OLN)

Source: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock

While Olin (NYSE:OLN) is best known as a specialty chemicals company, it also owns the Winchester brand of ammunition. Where Vista’s Kinetic division saw sales drop 19% over the first nine months of fiscal 2024, which ended Dec. 24, Olin’s Winchester unit only saw a 6% decline in sales for all of 2023. Fourth quarter sales, though, jumped 23.5% year-over-year to $395 million, and it is expected that Q1 sales will be sequentially higher.

Olin is also a supplier to the military. It won management and operational control over the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Independence, Missouri, 2019. The contract runs for seven years and produces military and commercial ammunition. The plant produces rounds such as the 5.56mm, 7.62mm and .50 caliber, as well as cartridges and casings. Winchester is the biggest seller of pistol ammunition for the military.

The Winchester segment represented 22% of Olin’s total revenue in 2023, significantly contributing to the company’s overall health. OLN stock is up 9% this year and 11% higher over the last 12 months.

AMMO (POWW)

Source: ThomasLENNE / Shutterstock.com

The third ammo stock to watch is AMMO (NASDAQ:POWW). It’s a relatively small manufacturer with $47 million in ammunition sales over the first three quarters of fiscal 2024. That’s nearly half of what it generated the year before, though demand was much higher a year ago because of shortages. As the industry normalized, so did demand.

AMMO also owns GunBroker.com, the largest online marketplace for firearms and shooting sports. The business produced $40.7 million in revenue in the last nine months, down 13% from last year. Firearms demand has also eased. According to the FBI, it conducted 29.85 million criminal background checks on potential gun buyers in 2023. That’s 6% fewer than the year before. Although that figure is 25% below the all-time high recorded in 2020, it is still the fourth-largest number since the federal law enforcement agency began tracking data in the late 1990s.

AMMO stock, however, is up 31% in 2024 and is running 38% high over the past year. AMMO is a scrappy ammunition manufacturer and one to watch as presidential politics heat up later this year.

On the date of publication, Rich Duprey held a LONG position in SWBI stock. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Rich Duprey has written about stocks and investing for the past 20 years. His articles have appeared on Nasdaq.com, The Motley Fool, and Yahoo! Finance, and he has been referenced by U.S. and international publications, including MarketWatch, Financial Times, Forbes, Fast Company, USA Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cheddar News, The Boston Globe, L’Express, and numerous other news outlets.

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