Renewed calls for tougher gun control laws sent gun stocks surging on Monday as investors expected an increase in gun sales. By Monday afternoon, the value of Smith & Wesson’s shares went up by 7.5% and Sturm, Ruger & Co increased by 3%.
Overall this year, the value of Smith & Wesson’s stock has increased by more than 80% and that of Sturm, Ruger increased by more than 60% – making them some of the best-performing stocks of 2015.
Monday’s rally in gun stocks came hours after Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and the Democratic candidate for the president, unveiled a plancalling for tougher background checks at gun shows and online than those currently in place.
“We need universal background checks,” Clinton said at the New Hampshire town hall. “We know that they will work.”
Obama also renewed his calls for tougher gun control laws on Thursday, after a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.
“It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun,” Obama said during a press conference after the shooting that left 10 dead, including the gunman. He went on to point out that the states with most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. “So the notion that gun laws don’t work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens, and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.”
In the years since Obama took office, gun makers have had some of their most profitable years. Last year, Smith & Wesson sales hit a record high of $626m, up 6.7% from $587.5m in 2013. Sturm, Ruger sales reached their record high in 2013.
According to an analysis by CNN Money, over the last five years Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger have gained 320%, outperforming Apple and four times the returns of the S&P 500 stock market.
Smith & Wesson reported record sales of $626m in 2014 but sales slid to $531m in 2015. James Debney, president and CEO of Smith & Wesson, said he expected the decline as the sales returned to “as the consumer market for firearms returns to a more normal environment”.