Ammunition Giant ATK Scores Bolt-On Bushnell Deal in Scopes and Optics

Alliant Techsystems Inc. (NYSE: ATK) is making what may be a game-changing acquisition. The reality is that it is a simple bolt-on merger for the company, but it opens up the company to even more business that does not simply revolve around government contracts for military orders. By purchasing Bushnell, Alliant is making its number one position in ammunition now a leader in optics and other optical accessories as well.

ATK has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Bushnell Group Holdings for its branded sports optics, outdoor accessories and performance eyewear. If you have ever gone looking for scopes or eyewear or other optical devices for hunting or for recreational shooting, you have likely run across Bushnell as one of the key choices. With Alliant now behind the company, this likely will become an even more prominent brand.

Bushnell’s product portfolio includes laser rangefinders, trail cameras, scopes for rifles, binoculars and other hunting and shooting sports accessories. ATK is set to pay $985 million in cash, subject to customary post-closing adjustments, and this is roughly at about 10 times the projected 2013 EBITDA. ATK said that Bushnell’s projected sales for the calendar year of 2013 are roughly $600 million, yet ATJ’s expected current year sales are expected to be about $4.2 billion. The earnings boost is what matters for ATK shareholders:

ATK expects the acquisition to result in FY14 earnings per share dilution due to the stub period, transaction expenses and purchase accounting. ATK expects the acquisition to be accretive to EPS in its first full year of operations (FY15), including impacts associated with transition expenses, and estimates FY16 EPS accretion of approximately $1.00.

Now look at what the largest ammunition maker is getting for its purchase. ATK will get to acquire more than 10,000 customer accounts in over 90 countries. Again, this is not just governmental supply contracts. Bushnell has 19 outdoor brands in sports optics, outdoor accessories and performance eyewear: the Bushnell brand itself plus Primos, Bollé, Hoppe’s, Uncle Mike’s, Butler Creek and Serengeti.

What ATK investors need to consider here is that this acquisition is after the company announced in June the acquisition of Savage Sports Corp. ATK already has ammunition brands such as Federal Premium, CCI, Fusion, Speer, Estate Cartridge and Blazer. ATK also already has accessories brands BLACKHAWK!, Alliant Powder, RCBS, Champion targets and shooting equipment, Gunslick Pro and Outers gun-care products, and Weaver optics and mounting systems.

If ATK is adding $1.00 per share in earnings in 2016, that is on top of almost $9.00 per share expected in its March-2015 fiscal year. This is one of those acquisitions that just makes sense, and it helps to consolidate an industry that literally has hundreds of gear and outfit suppliers.

ATK is up 1.5% at $98.72 in early trading on Thursday, against a 52-week range of $48.67 to $103.77. Acquirers generally see their stocks drop when they announce a buyout. The $985 million compares to a current market cap of about $3.1 billion. The consensus analyst price target is only $101.82 for ATK, but our take is that this target price will ratchet up considerably based on this deal. The highest price target is $121, and that may be ratcheting higher as well.

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