Gun Trade Stocks Versus the New Clinton Gun Control Plans

October 6, 2015 by Jon C. Ogg

With another fresh tragedy involving guns and multiple murders, and with it getting thick into election season, the debate about gun control versus gun rights is back front and center. Now we have the new Hillary Clinton gun control plans, following the mass shooting at an Oregon community college. It turns out that when politicians speak out against guns, those gun and ammunition companies often see their stocks react. In the case of Monday’s reaction, the major gun-trade stocks put on their rally caps.

For a bit of calm here: covering the gun trade on either side of the aisle quite simply draws attacks. It is just one of those hot-button topics. Either way, some issues need to be addressed — as does that fallout and aftermath of the reaction.

What should be kept in mind here is that, despite the anti-gun White House speeches after each mass shooting in recent years, it may be very different than what was seen in the prior Clinton years. Could there be a repeat after 2016?

Some of the moves here will sound familiar for those who were adults in the 1990s or for modern history buffs, although the real plan has of course yet to be written into a formal proposal that would or would not withstand a vote in Congress. The wild card of course is the threat of potential or likely executive action.

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Clinton’s plan includes closing a gun show loophole for private sales, allowing victims of gun violence to sue weapon manufacturers, proposing a repeal of legislation, changes to the background checks and tracking those who should not have guns. The one effort that will stir perhaps the most controversy is renewing the assault weapons ban.

Another issue that will create a stir is what MSN wrote: Clinton reiterated a challenge initiated last week to promote an alternative to the National Rifle Association. The call is for gun owners to “form another organization and take back the second amendment from these extremists.”

So, how have gun stocks reacted, alongside the outlet stores that retail guns and ammo? Actually, they all rallied on Monday. What is surprising is that the market waited for Clinton’s message on guns and waited for another massacre. After all, there is precedent to consider with the words “Clinton” and “gun control” that is real history from the 1990s.

Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. (NASDAQ: SWHC) closed up 7.3% to $17.81, within a 52-week trading range of $9.03 to $19.22. The consensus analyst price target is $19.88. Smith & Wesson’s market cap is $968 million, compared with expected annual sales in this fiscal year of $623 million.

Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. (NYSE: RGR) closed up 2.6%, at $57.93 in a 52-week range of $33.60 to $66.11. It has a consensus analyst price target of $54.33. Sturm Ruger’s market cap is $1.08 billion, with expected current fiscal year sales of $534 million.

Vista Outdoor Inc. (NYSE: VSTO) is the old spin-out ammo unit from Alliant Techsystems and the Orbital merger/separation. Its shares closed up 2.5% to $44.58, it has a post-split range of $37.00 to $49.27, and it has a consensus price target of $53.17. Vista’s shares were closer to $38 when it went trading on its own earlier this year. Vista has a market cap of $2.8 billion and is expected to generate $2.2 billion in revenues in the current fiscal year. While not just an ammo maker, if you buy ammo you have almost certainly bought one of its brands: Federal Premium, Speer, American Eagle, Blazer, CCI, Estate Cartridge, Fusion and Independence.

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Olin Corp. (NYSE: OLN) may be more diversified away from weapons, but it does have its Winchester manufacturer and sells chlor-alkali products in the United States and internationally. The company operates through three segments: Chlor Alkali Products, Chemical Distribution and Winchester ammo unit.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. (NYSE: DKS) is very diversified in sports and outdoors, but it is one of the top destinations with the same name around the country to go buy guns and ammo. Its market cap is $6.2 billion, and its shares closed up 2.5% at $52.28, versus a 52-week range of $41.56 to $60.33.

Cabela’s Inc. (NYSE: CAB), another outdoor and hunting supplies store, saw its shares close up 2.9% to $45.40. It has a $3.2 billion market cap. Its 52-week range is $39.52 to $60.18, and its consensus price target is roughly $55.50.

Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: SPWH) even managed to close up 2.9% at $12.27. Its smaller market cap of $592 million comes with a 52-week range of $6.15 to $14.91.

Do we dare even think about TASER International Inc. (NASDAQ: TASR)? TASER makes non-lethal stun guns for law enforcement rather than real rifles and pistols. Its shares even closed up 3.2% at $23.31, against a 52-week range of $13.40 to $35.95. Its market cap of $1.26 billion is compares with expected current year revenues of $193 million.

The real question is not really just around the words of politicians. It is what really happens after key events and after key speeches of potential policy changes. After all, President Obama probably wasn’t too happy to see images with his face and a blue ribbon titled “Gun Salesman of the Century” on them, nor that gun sales laws and policy have continued without any changes.

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The market has to at least consider that things could be different under a different administration. There is a stronger history of gun control enforcement under the Clintons. Outside of the fiasco of the Waco Siege, there was the Brady Bill and the Public Safety & Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, with the latter better known as the federal assault weapons ban.

Another consideration is that there is still more than a year until the actual presidential and congressional elections. Lastly, it is not even known if the full presidential slate of candidates has yet been announced.