May 9, 2017 / 6:24 PM / 2 months ago

U.S. gun stocks surge, Sturm Ruger results give bulls fresh ammo

3 Min Read

SAN FRANCISCO, May 9 (Reuters) - Shares of gun makers surged on Tuesday after Sturm Ruger & Company Inc's quarterly results suggested demand is recovering following a steep sales drop after the election of Donald Trump as president.

Sturm Ruger shares jumped as much as 16 percent and were still up 10 percent at $63.15 in afternoon trading. Shares of Smith & Wesson's owner, American Outdoor Brands Corp, were up 4.4 percent at $21.95. Vista Outdoor Inc, which reports results for the March quarter on Thursday, were up 1.4 percent at $19.35.

The November election of Republican Trump, who opposes regulations on gun ownership, abruptly undercut demand for guns as people became less worried the government would curtail their ability to purchase firearms.

Sturm Ruger's report late on Monday provided fresh ammunition for investors arguing the industry is already on the mend. Its stock has recovered about 30 percent since a post-election sell-off hit bottom in mid-March, and Sturm Ruger remains down just 2 percent from before the election.

"The prevailing sentiment at the moment appears to be that industry sell-through patterns and retailer inventory destocking trends should largely normalize by fall 2017," wrote Wunderlich analyst Rommel Dionisio in a note following Sturm Ruger's report. He raised his price target for Sturm Ruger to $62 from $51.

The company's first-quarter revenue dipped 3 percent to $167.4 million, better than some analysts expected. Earnings per share were flat at $1.21.

Recent data on firearm background checks also hints at stabilization. After a sharp post-election drop, background checks in April were flat compared with April 2016, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Sell-through of firearms from Sturm Ruger's distributors to retailers fell 7 percent during the quarter, but at a lower rate than the 11 percent drop in background checks during the quarter, suggesting that Sturm Ruger gained market share.

Data on background checks is collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the NSSF adjusts it to remove checks for conceal-carry permits so that it better reflects actual gun purchases.

In addition to guns and ammunition, Vista Outdoor sells archery gear, bicycle helmets, scopes and other sports products. It has been slammed by a wave of retail bankruptcies including Sports Authority and Gander Mountain, which sold many of its products.

Vista Outdoor's shares have fallen by half since Jan. 11, when it warned it expected an impairment charge due to a soft retail environment. (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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