Strong gun sales propel Smith & Wesson

The company sees shares soar more than 20% after reporting strong earnings and raising its full-year outlook.

By Kim Peterson Mar 9, 2012 2:09PM
Image: Men playing with guns (© Leander Baerenz/Digital Vision/Getty Images)People are buying lots of handguns and sporting rifles, and Smith & Wesson Holding (SWHC) is booming.

The stock was up more than 21% Friday after the gun maker beat analyst expectations and raised its revenue outlook for the year.

Smith & Wesson reported a profit of $4.4 million, or 7 cents per share, for the three months ended Jan. 31. Analysts were expecting only 4 cents a share. The company is back in the black after reporting a loss of $52.8 million, or 88 cents per share, a year ago. That year-ago loss was due in part to the plunging value of the perimeter-security systems business the company is now trying to sell.

Revenue for the quarter was also a surprise, coming in at $98.1 million as firearm sales soared. Wall Street was expecting revenue of around $95 million.

So is this what happens when the economy comes back? People rush out to buy guns? The company is expanding manufacturing to meet increased demand and has begun making a new handgun for the personal-protection market. The company has also been cutting costs and saw operating expenses drop to 20% of net sales from nearly 27% a year earlier.

Smith & Wesson's firearms backlog more than doubled to $198.5 million from a year earlier. "Such a substantial increase in order backlog is a positive leading indicator for near-term sales momentum, as the company should fulfill much of this order flow within the next two to three quarters," wrote Wedbush analyst Rommel Dionisio, according to Reuters.

Smith & Wesson raised its full-year revenue outlook to between $395 million and $400 million from a previous estimate of $385 million to $395 million. Analysts were expecting $393 million.


Smith & Wesson shares rose more than 20% to $6.83 Friday. Shares had dropped to the $2.50 range last fall but began recovering in December. The company competes with Sturm, Ruger & Co (RGR), which did not see any related uptick in shares Friday. Sturm Ruger shares were down less than 1% to $43.10.


Sturm Ruger shares have more than doubled in the last year.

Tags: RGRSWHC
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