Leading Gun Company Stock Collapses as Sales Plunge

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Shares of Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. (NYSE: RGR) plunged as its sales in the most recently reported quarter fell off a cliff. What the drop says about gun demand in the United States is hard to tell.

The stock fell 15% after the company disclosed that sales had collapsed. Management reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that:

Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. announced today that for 2017 the Company reported net sales of $522.3 million and diluted earnings of $2.91 per share, compared with net sales of $664.3 million and diluted earnings of $4.59 per share in 2016.

Gun demand was not the only aspect of the company’s operations blamed for the disaster:

Decreased overall consumer demand in 2017 due to stronger-than-normal demand during most of 2016, likely bolstered by the political campaigns for the November 2016 elections,

 Reduced purchasing by retailers in an effort to reduce their inventories and generate cash,
 Aggressive price discounting and lucrative consumer rebates offered by many of our competitors, and
 Excess industry manufacturing capacity, which exacerbated the above factors.

However, the election of President Trump and his lack of a gun policy had an effect on the company’s results, at least as management sees the problem.

Sturm Ruger shares are off 15% this year to $47.30. This is down from a 52-week high of $68.80 and against a 52-week low of $44.80. Worse-than-expected earnings have been part of the problem. Based on gun sales trends, the problem could get worse.