'Personal protection’ credited for Smith & Wesson’s Q3 success

Smith & Wesson

Attendants at Smith & Wesson’s booth during SHOT Show 2016 probably talking about handguns designed for personal protection. (Photo: Daniel Terrill)

Smith & Wesson’s management on Thursday raised financial expectations for fiscal year 2016 as the company announced a 61.5-percent increase in third quarter sales.

The Massachusetts gun maker reported $210.8 million in sales, up from the $130.5 million reported last year, that resulted in $31.4 million in profit, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Nine months into the fiscal year, the company has generated $501.8 million.

Expectations for fourth quarter earnings were raised by $5 million, putting estimates at $215 million for the quarter and $717 million for the year.

Smith & Wesson’s chief executive officer, James Debney, said along with short-term spikes caused by holiday shopping, recent headlines and the current political environment, the desire for personal protection heavily influenced consumer demand.

To support his claim, he pointed to Smith & Wesson shipping one million subcompact handguns branded M&P Shield after only 3.5 years in commerce.

“I think that reinforces what I just said about the trend for personal protection and thus concealed carry remains very, very strong,” Debney said, adding, “Small-frame revolvers extremely popular as ever because of their simplicity, especially for the new shooters.”

Smith & Wesson saw a 25.3 percent increase in handgun sales, compared to a 4.4 percent increase in long gun sales, Debney said.

Firearms accounted for $194.7 million in quarterly sales, an increase of 56.4 percent from last year, according to the company’s SEC filing. About 75 percent of firearm sales came from handguns.

Debney also pointed to figures from monthly reports of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which the industry uses as an indicator of consumer activity. Checks for handguns increased by 45.3 percent during Smith & Wesson’s fourth quarter, he said.

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