The debate over firearms has ignited a wave of emotions and political rhetoric over the past several months, but the current administration is still proving to be the best thing to happen to gun sales since the Second Amendment.
Late Monday, Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE:RGR) reported first-quarter results that exceeded targets. Net sales for the largest publicly-traded gun manufacturer surged 39 percent to $155.9 million, compared to $112.3 million a year earlier. Earnings came in at $1.20 per share, up from 79 cents per share in the same period last year. Analysts on Wall Street were expecting earnings of $1.01 per share with revenue of $112.3 million, according to Thomson Reuters.
New product offerings such as the LC380 and SR45 pistols helped gun sales, but the recent gun control debate was cited as the main catalyst. In a regulatory filing, Ruger explains, “Demand for the Company’s products in the first quarter of 2013 was very strong. We believe this strong demand for our products was primarily due to the current political environment that favorably impacted the entire firearms industry.”
The gun industry typically receives a boost when a Democrat holds the White House, but gun and ammo sales have surged to record highs as the tragedy in Newtown sparked more debate about gun control. Ruger had to limit incoming orders from independent distributors to reduce the growth in its backlog, which hit 1.5 million orders at the end of 2012, or roughly nine months of production. The backlog climbed to 2.1 million orders in the first quarter, as Ruger can not make guns fast enough to satisfy growing demand. In comparison, the backlog at the end of 2011 was only 337,000 units.