Vista Outdoor is ‘doubtlessly’ getting rid of its guns

Vista Outdoor, a gun and ammunition maker, said Tuesday it could Selling its gun brands, causing its stock price to drop sharply.

Vista said it “potentially” sells its Savage branded shotguns and rifles, including AR-15 style rifles, as well as its Stevens branded shotguns.

Vista Outdoor is exploring strategic alternatives including the potential divestments of the remaining Sports Protection brands, Savage / Stevens Firearms and Jimmy Styks [paddle boards,]”The company said in a statement to CNNMoney.” We will begin the process immediately, but we will take the time it takes to make prudent decisions.

Vista (VSTO)The company’s share price fell 15% after the company posted a separate statement online in which chairman Chris Metz said Vista plans to consider strategic options for Savage and Stevens firearms, as well as some non-weapon brands like Bell helmets.

Vista Outdoor said it intends to focus on achieving growth with its other “market-leading brands” including ammunition, hunting and shooting accessories, water bottles and backpacks like Camelbak, and outdoor cooking products.

Vista Outdoor has 50 brands ranging from ammunition reloading kits to Bushnell riflescopes and golf rangefinders to Bollé safety glasses. It is also one of the largest ammunition manufacturers in the country with eight brands of ammunition.

“They dominate the shelf,” said Brian Rafn, arms industry analyst at Morgan Dempsey. “I think that’s her legacy.”

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But guns only make up a small fraction of their sales, Rafn said, unlike leading gun manufacturers Sturm Rüger (RGR) and American outdoor brands (AOBC). He said it was “not worth the headache” that Vista continues to manufacture weapons, including AR-15 rifles, in a politically charged environment following a series of mass shootings that rekindled the gun control debate.

The gun industry has struggled since the 2016 election of President Trump, backed by the National Rifle Association, because gun buyers with a Republican in the White House were less concerned about gun control.

Rommel Dionisio, Aegis Capital’s arms industry analyst, said Vista executives spoke during a conference call Tuesday about the possibility of their gun brands being put on sale.

“With the regulatory environment for modern sporting rifles currently uncertain following the recent Parkland tragedy, this could also be a factor in your decision to exit the firearms market,” said Dionisio, referring to a fatal mass shooting at a Florida high school in February.

Modern sporting rifle is the industry term for military-style semi-automatic rifles that gun control advocates refer to as assault rifles.

Vista is the latest company to say goodbye to guns. Dick’s sporting goods (DKS) announced earlier this year that it would stop selling weapons after the Parkland shootings. Walmart stopped selling military-style semi-automatic rifles in 2015.

After Dick announced his decision, Walmart (WMT), LL Bean and the grocery chain Kroger (KR), who sells guns through its Fred Meyer stores, have all raised their gun age to 21.

Wall Street has also interfered. BlackRock, the largest shareholder in Ruger and American Outdoor Brands and the second largest shareholder in Vista, said last month that it is launching unarmed funds for retirement plans.

CNNMoney (New York) Initial publication May 1, 2018: 1:19 p.m. ET

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