Gun Sales, Women’s Gun Ownership Continue to Surge

Last April, we took note of a rise in gun sales, much of it attributed to the surging sales of guns to women. Gun retailers and gun ranges were even beginning to hold “Ladies Nights” because of the interest. A Gallup Poll found that 23 percent of women in America at the time owned at least one gun. Another statistic noted that nearly 47 percent more women were shooting guns at that time compared to a decade ago.

Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

Photo courtesy of Sydney Morning Herald

Then a similar story popped up again on February 11 in The New York Times. The NYT ran a feature in their national edition under the headline “Rising Voice of Gun Ownership is Female” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/11/us/rising-voice-of-gun-ownership-is-female.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). The story was peppered with more statistics:

  • During the decade from 2001-2011, women’s participation in shooting sports has surged, increasing  by 51.5 percent for target shooting and by 41.8 percent for hunting.
  • In 2011, 73 percent of gun dealers said the number of female customers had gone up.
  • Women’s shooting clubs have proliferated not only in rural areas where you might expect, but even in Manhattan
  • An estimated 12 million to 17 million women in the U.S. are now gun owners.

When we first ran this story, we followed the lead of a CNBC story that suggested the surge in gun sales has led to a surge in valuations of gun manufacturers, particularly since the start of 2012. Since two of the biggest gun names are smallcap companies, let’s look at what’s happened since April 2012.

It appears that the surge in gun sales continues to be good for these stocks…

Southport, CT-based Sturm, Ruger & C0. (NYSE: RGR, http://www.ruger-firearms.com/) has been manufacturing and selling firearms under the Ruger name in the U.S. and through distributorships overseas since 1948. That includes rifles, shotguns, pistols, revolvers and related products. Last April RGR was coming off a good three-month run, jumping from $36.59 in late January 2012 to a close April 18, 2012 of $51.46 and a market cap of $984 million. RGR closed Feb. 13 at $54.66, up 76 cents for the day. Its market cap is now $1.05 billion and its 52-week range is $34.22-$60.11.

Springfield, MA-based Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (Nasdaq: SWHC, http://www.smith-wesson.com/) was founded way back in 1852. SWHC sells more than firearms (including handguns and rifles) and firearm-related accessories. It sells “perimeter security solutions” including guard booths, inspection systems, mobile barriers, signs and systems, plus much more. According to the New York Times, Smith & Wessonwas the “first manufacturer to recognize the potential of the women’s market” and introduced the LadySmith line of revolvers in 1989. Like RGR, SWHC stock had a similar three-month run-up in early 2012. On April 18, 2012 it closed at $8.05 with a market cap of $522 million. On Feb. 13, 2013 SWHC closed at $9.45, up 2 cents for the day. Its market cap is now $627 million and the 52-week range is $5.11-$11.25.

We also covered a company out of our smallcap focus: Sydney, NE-based Cabelas Inc. (NYSE: CAB, http://www.cabelas.com/), a company with a broad range of hunting, fishing, camping and outdoor-related merchandise. But they do offer Smith & Wesson handguns, as well as Walther pistols. CAB had a market cap of $2.67 billion back on April 18, 2012 when it closed at $39.15. On Feb. 13, 2013 CAB closed at $50.76, up 46 cents on the day with a market cap of $3.6 billion. Back in January 2012 CAB was trading for less than $25.

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