Three Investment Firms Downgraded This Gunmaker and Its Shares Are in Freefall

April 4, 2016, 7:43 PM UTC

Consumers bought so many guns in past quarters that Smith and Wesson will see demand slow in this quarter.

That’s according to Cowen and Company, which lowered expectations for Smith and Wesson (SWHC) to market perform early Monday. That downgrade was followed by CL King, and BB&T Capital, who cut their rating on the stock to neutral and hold respectively—sending shares down 18%, nearly erasing the stock’s gains year-to-date.

Both Cowen and BB&T analysts noted that demand for guns seemed to be weakening as of late, pointing to data from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which reported that the number of background checks for gun buyers fell 13.2% in March from the month prior—the “weakest of the past decade and well below ten year averages,” wrote the team of analyst at Cowen led by Cai von Rumohr.

The news comes after Smith and Wesson reported stellar sales for firearms in the third quarter, driven by buyers who were concerned about increasing gun control laws. The current period’s demand however has been driven by consumers seeking personal protection following terrorist attacks in Paris—leading buyers to stockpile handguns in anticipation of recurring attacks, Cowen noted.

But that cuts into future gun demand—at least in the short term.

Likewise, BB&T analysts also cited the surge in demand for guns as a problem for Smith and Wesson. Brian Ruttenbur wrote that increased consumer demand chipped away at the company’s inventory—suggesting that the gunmaker would have to rely on outsourced production if demand does pick up.

“We believe Smith and Wesson’s increased use of outsourced production will limit its sales and margin upside in the near-term,” Ruttenbur wrote.

Though both firms have also said that they can only speak about the company’s near term performance.

Cowen noted the data from the NCIS was cyclical, so the firm is “reluctant to over-read it.” The number of background checks grew year-over-year, by 9.2% in March. Cowen maintained 2017 estimates of $1.80 earnings per share for Smith and Wesson.

Shares of fellow gunmaker Sturm, Ruger and Company (RGR) also slid 8% in mid-day trading.


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