Fewer than 20 employees at Vista Outdoor’s operations in Lewiston accepted offers of early retirement presented to them in January.
A company spokesman confirmed at the time the offers were extended that the company was seeking volunteers to retire, but only recently shared how many had been accepted.
The number of employees in Lewiston has been gradually shrinking since hitting a peak of nearly 1,500 in 2016, and is now at about 1,135.
Cutting positions is just one of the money-saving measures Vista Outdoor is taking in Lewiston. Most of its Lewiston ammunition-manufacturing operations were idled for three days in early February as the company faces financial pressures that first surfaced just after the election of President Donald Trump.
The company lost almost $600 million in the first nine months of its present fiscal year, including a $514 million loss for the quarter that ended Dec. 30. Most of that was because Vista took a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of $433 million. Such charges previously have been described by the company as being required when it is more likely than not the fair value of a reporting unit is less than book value.
In the most recent instance, “the trading price of our common stock declined significantly (from $17.46 per share Oct. 1 to $11.35 per share at the end of December) … increasing the difference between the market value of Vista Outdoor equity and the book value of the assets recorded on our balance sheet,” according to a news release about Vista’s earnings.
This implies “that investors may believe that the fair value of our reporting units is lower than their book value,” according to the news release.
Vista Outdoor has reduced its sales projections for its upcoming fiscal year and beyond “as a result of a weaker-than-expected 2018 holiday shopping season and increasing uncertainty from the impact of retail bankruptcies, tariffs and other factors affecting the market for our products,” according to the news release.
The industry is experiencing the continuation of a drop in demand for ammunition that started when gun owners stopped stockpiling cartridges after Trump became president.
CEO Christopher Metz told stock market analysts that he believes that trend will reverse itself.
“We talked to thousands of our customers, and we don’t see any sense that shooting has diminished at all,” he said.
But he doesn’t know when ammunition sales will improve, especially considering the high amount of cartridges that can be stored in small spaces like closets and safes in homes, where volumes are difficult for industry experts to track.
“We all underestimated that ... People (have) just been sitting on a lot of inventory and they are shooting through it. ... We know at some point here soon people are going … to replenish their stock. We just can’t say ... when that’s going to happen,” Metz said.
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