Winchester expects post-surge ammo sales to remain steady in 2015

Winchester-Ammunition

Winchester Ammunition, on display here at SHOT Show 2015, has manufacturing facilities in East Alton, Illinois and Oxford, Mississippi. (Photo: Daniel Terrill)

Although gun and ammo sales have decreased since surge levels in 2013, Winchester Ammunition‘s fourth quarter results show sales still riding high.

Winchester, owned by chemical conglomerate Olin Corp., reported $147.2 million in sales, down 25 percent from the same time last year, but higher than in 2012, according to Friday’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“Fourth quarter 2014 Winchester segment results reached the second highest level of fourth quarter earnings in the history of the business,” Olin’s chief operating officer, John Fischer, said during a quarterly conference call. He added the company forecasts ammo sales as being “robust” in the second half of 2015.

“As expected, commercial demand declined from surge levels for pistol, shotshell, and rifle ammunition,” he said. “While rimfire ammunition demand continued at record levels.”

The drop in sales for gun manufactures since 2013’s surge — due to the looming fear of lawmakers expanding federal gun control laws in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — was more immediate, but in 2013 consumers stockpiled shooting supplies, increasing consumer demand and drying up supply.

Commercial backlog is $215 million for Winchester, below the $400-million backlog experienced in 2013 but substantially higher than the pre-surge levels.

“The significant increase in gun ownership that has occurred over the past five years as well as the increase in the number of people who have become regular target shooters will result in the commercial ammunition demand in excess of historical levels,” Fischer said.