Ruger: 'No appreciable difference' from export reform

Ruger CEO Chris Killoy at a gun shop talking shop with Ruger fans. Photograph taken May 13, 2017. (Photo: Ruger/Facebook)

Executives for Sturm, Ruger and Company said this week proposed export reform holds little significance for the gun maker’s bottom line.

Chief Executive Officer Chris Killoy told investors Thursday export customers represent between 4 percent and 6 percent of the company’s overall sales.

“It’s not been a very significant part of our business,” he said. “So I think that change is a welcome change. It will certainly help the efficiencies and perhaps impact the throughput of those orders here at Ruger.”

The new rules — which industry experts forecast will boost sales internationally — will eliminate expensive licensing fees currently barring many gun dealers from competing overseas. In the case of large-scale manufacturers like Ruger and Smith & Wesson, the reforms would undo a regulatory hurtle forcing gun makers with more than $1 million worth of firearms to export first seek congressional approval.

U.S. gun manufacturers shipped nearly 377,000 firearms overseas in 2016 — the most recent year for which data is available.

“But we have to remember the countries that are receiving those imports, whether it’s Germany, France, etcetera, they haven’t changed any of their import laws,” Killoy said during a conference call with investors Thursday. “So certain guns that may be restricted in their countries are still going to be restricted. So I don’t see it having a measurable or appreciable difference on Ruger’s export business.”

Notably, executives for Smith & Wesson’s parent company, American Outdoor Brands, also downplayed the impact of export reform to shareholders in June, discounting it as “not a big mover of anything.”

Ruger reported annual net sales of $522.3 million last year, down 21 percent over 2016 — the biggest on record for federal background checks and by proxy, estimated gun sales. Sales likewise tanked in the gun maker’s first quarter of 2018, though — through staff cuts and production slow-downs — Ruger appears to have reigned-in its losses, reporting just a 3 percent sales decline in its second quarter.

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