Winchester Ammunition executives correctly predicted 2016 earnings would improve after moving operations down south, but unpredictable election results slowed business in the year’s fourth quarter.
The ammo maker saw a slowdown in commercial demand that amounted to a $41.8 million drop in sales following the election of Republican Donald Trump, according to this week’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The difference translates into $11 million less in profits.
Yet, despite the dramatic quarter-to-quarter change Winchester still closed 2016 with a 3 percent increase in sales. With the $161.4 million earned in the fourth, the company reported $729.3 million in annual revenue.
While the company will save an estimated $45 million in operating costs after completely relocating to Oxford, Mississippi, from southern Illinois, 2017 probably won’t be as fruitful.
President and chief executive officer of Winchester’s parent company Olin Corp., John Fischer, said he expects slow demand to continue. He also said metal prices have increased since the election and that retailers and customers increased inventory levels in anticipation of different election results.
“We believe that what happened was that the retailers were looking at what happened after 2008 election, 2012 election, expected a similar political leaning outcome and didn’t – and had built the inventory in anticipation of that, and when it didn’t happen, the inventory levels were too high,” he told investors during a conference call Wednesday.
Fischer said during the Obama Administration they saw the creation of more recreational shooters than before. “I think one would be a lot more interested to see what happens in the first six months of this year,” he said.