On Wednesday, Gallup reported that gun ownership in the US reached its highest level since 1993. Forty-seven percent of American adults currently say they have a gun in their home or somewhere else on their property. Last year, 41% of American adults claimed to own a gun. The report also found that the percentage of women who own a gun reached a new high of 43%. Gun ownership in all American regions increased, with the South being the highest at 53%, and the East being the lowest at 36%. Can the following defense stocks give investors some firepower in this volatile market.
Sturm, Ruger & Co. (NYSE:RGR) is one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of high-quality firearms for the commercial sporting market. The only full-line manufacturer of American-Made firearms, Ruger offers over 400 variations of more than 70 products across 25 product lines. According to the company’s share price, Ruger is the firearm of choice for investors. Since 2010, shares have tripled from $10 to $30 and pay a dividend of almost 2%. Shares are popping 6% today.
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The only other publicly traded gun maker is Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC). Unforetunely, investors holding the stock have missed the bullseye over the past couple years. Since 2010, shares have fallen 25%. The company expects sales to increase 10% for year, and recently announced that it was awarded firearm contracts in Texas from the Austin Police Department, and from the San Antonio Police Officers Association.
Another way to play defense sector is through Ceradyne, Inc. (NASDAQ:CRDN), which makes everything from advanced ceramic body armor systems to seamless ballistic helmets. The company even provides composite armor panels for small boats and vessels. Shares have surged about 80% since the beginning of 2010. Earlier this week, the company reported third quarter profits of 82 cents per share, which beat estimates of 73 cents per share. In the past 5 days, shares have surged 25%.
Investors looking to go big or go home when it comes to defense may seek out protection from Lockheed Martin Corporation (NYSE:LMT). As a global security and information technology company, the majority of Lockheed Martin’s business is with the US Department of Defense and the US federal government agencies. Currently, shares are trading near 2010 levels, but have seen wild swings during the period. The 52-week range is between $66.36 and $82.43. The company reported $45.8 billion in sales for 2010, with a backlog of $78.2 billion. Investors willing to wait out the volatility can currently enjoy a 5% dividend. Competitors include Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN) and Boeing (NYSE:BA).
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