Firearms, ammunition, and hunting sports accessories maker Vista Outdoor (NASDAQ: VSTO) released financial results for its fiscal 2016 first quarter last week. The company beat estimates on both the top and bottom lines. The company reported quarterly sales of $514 million, which was just ahead of the analyst consensus of $510 million. Earnings per diluted share of $0.53 likewise exceeded analyst estimates by six cents. On the down side, free cash flow came in at negative $52.5 million.

Comparisons to the prior year period are a bit tricky, because this time last year, Vista Outdoor was still part of its then-parent company Alliant Techsystems. That said, assuming Vista's own calculations are correct, this worked out to 9% fewer revenues this past quarter than Vista generated last year. Profits also came in 17% below what Vista earned during the year-ago quarter. While Vista burned cash, free cash flow was 36% lower year-over-year.

So bad news and okay news, too.

To help get sales and earnings numbers growing again, Vista made two acquisitions during the quarter, buying CamelBak "personal hydration systems" (backpack-borne water bottles) and also Jimmy Styks stand-up paddleboards. Both purchases move Vista Outdoor a little more toward the "outdoor" side of its corporate moniker and a little farther away from its roots as a shooting sports supplier.

With these two brands coming in-house, Vista Outdoor has updated its financial guidance for the year. Management now predicts it will close out fiscal 2016 with sales of approximately $2.2 billion, free cash flow of perhaps $165 million, and GAAP earnings per diluted share between $2.04 and $2.29.

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Rich Smith has no position in any stocks mentioned. 

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