Guns are big business in the U.S. But not that big. Looking at 2011 results for publicly traded gun companies...
• Smith & Wesson reported $500 million in sales, gross profit of $128 million, and net income of $58 million.
• Sturm, Ruger reported $443 million in sales, gross profit of $112 million, and net income of $61 million.
• Freedom Group, which includes Remington and also manufactures the Bushmaster assault rifles popular with psychopaths, reported $775 million in sales, gross profit of $220 million, and a net loss of $7 million. (The company is not publicly traded, but had recently considered it and publishes SEC style quarterly and annual reports).
The only other publicly traded firearms company I could locate is ATK. They are mostly a defense weapons contractor, but also make popular lines of commercial ammunition and accessories. Their annual sales were $4.6 billion, with gross profit of $995 million and net income of $247 million. Their consumer products represented about 20% of sales.
Glock and Sig Sauer are privately held and don't publish financial reports. A profile of Sig Sauer, however, put their annual sales at approx. $160 million.
All of that is a lot of money, but not that much in the big scheme of things. Apple had revenues of $157 billion, nearly 20 times the combined revenues of these companies.
Yet somehow, by way of the NRA, they hold sway over gun policy in the U.S. The NRA, by the way:
• Had revenues in 2010 of $16 million
• Spent $18 million on independent political communications in the most recent cycle
• Spent over $5 million on lobbying
• Made over $1 million in direct campaign contributions
Again, that just doesn't seem like enough to purchase U.S. gun policy lock stock and barrel. If Congress, state legislators, governors and mayors just said NO to the NRA they would be out of business and we might then be able to have a rational discussion about gun policy.
In related news, it's being reported that gun sales are up after Friday's tragedy. Enthusiasts are no doubt loading up on assault rifles and high capacity magazines because this may be the tipping point. Despite possible short term gains, however, investors appear to be taking a dimmer long view. As the broader markets advanced, Smith & Wesson shares were down 4.7% this morning and Ruger shares were down 1.6%.
Finally, take a look at these interesting management discussion remarks from gun company financial reports:
• S&W: "Political and other factors also can affect our performance. Concerns about presidential, congressional, and state elections and legislature and policy shifts resulting from those elections can affect the demand for our products. For example, we experienced strong consumer demand for our firearm products following a new administration taking office in Washington, D.C. in 2009. In addition, speculation surrounding increased gun control and heightened fears of terrorism and crime can affect consumer demand for our products."
• Sturm, Ruger: "The Company believes that the lawful private ownership of firearms is guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and that the widespread private ownership of firearms in the United States will continue. However, there can be no assurance that the regulation of firearms will not become more restrictive in the future and that any such restriction would not have a material adverse effect on the business of the Company."
• Freedom Group: "We believe the continued economic uncertainty and the 2012 presidential election is likely to continue to spur handgun and certain rifle sales. Additionally, returning military are likely to purchase firearms for recreational use and to maintain training. We believe the industry is experiencing trends more toward recreational and shooting sports and home defense, in addition to the traditional hunting market."
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