In just a couple of weeks, Alliant Techsystems (NYSE: ATK) will be no more. As confirmed in a press release earlier this month, Alliant expects to soon spin off its sporting group as a new business to be known as Vista Outdoor, which will begin trading under the ticker symbol VSTO on Feb. 10.

ATK shareholders will keep their shares in the parent company, and get two VSTO shares besides, for every one share of ATK they currently hold. What remains of Alliant will then immediately merge with new partner Orbital Sciences (NYSE:OA) to form the new company Orbital ATK.

But before any of that happens, Alliant had time to get out one final earnings report, and that arrived Wednesday. Going over the results for fiscal Q3 2015, ATK reported:

  • 4% sales growth to $1.3 billion
  • Operating profit of just $105 million, down 28% year over year -- largely attributable to the company's ill-advised purchase of Savage Arms in 2013, a purchase that has now resulted in a "goodwill/trade name impairment charge"
  • Profits per diluted share of just $1.43 -- down 42% year over year

New orders taken in over the course of the quarter amounted to only $1 billion in value. That's 23% less than the $1.3 billion in orders taken in the year-ago quarter. It also works out to a "book-to-bill" ratio of just 0.77 for the quarter, indicating that new orders aren't coming in fast enough to maintain current revenue rates.

Out with the old
So, that's the bad news. The good news is that, once free of Vista Outdoor and merged with Orbital, ATK's defense and aerospace businesses should start looking a whole lot healthier. To see why, all you need do is examine the report that the soon-to-be-independent Vista Outdoor issued alongside ATK's earnings news yesterday.

Giving investors a picture of what its business will look like post-spinoff, Vista described that, if it were already a stand-alone entity, its:

  • Fiscal Q3 sales of $507 million would be down 3% year over year.
  • Gross profits would be flat at $134 million.
  • And, because it will bear the entirety of the goodwill charge associated with the Savage Arms acquisition, operating profit for the quarter would be just $11 million -- down 83% year over year.

And that's before taxes.

What the future holds
According to new CEO Stephen Nolan, the situation at Vista may not be as bad as it looks: "Our results are in line with our expectations for the market correction and recovery. The average market correction period is approximately 18 months." So, assuming the future is much like the past, Vista is still hoping to see a return to "modest growth for FY16, primarily in the second half of the year."

That, however, is about as far as either company will go in predicting how the next few quarters might play out. Nolan promised to give more guidance on what to expect "in its fiscal year 2015 year-end earnings release in the May 2015 time frame." ATK, meanwhile, issued a curt "due to the pending closing of the anticipated transaction, ATK is not discussing its outlook or issuing financial guidance" in lieu of making any predictions.

Rest assured, though, that here at The Motley Fool we'll be watching both companies closely -- Vista Outdoor and Orbital ATK alike. As soon as we know more, we'll make sure to tell you about it. Stay tuned.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.