Ruger looks to ‘shake things up’ with goal of 2m gun sales

CEO pledges $2 NRA donation for each firearm sold
'I want to shake things up and get us going again|!!|' says Sturm Ruger & Co. CEO Michael Fifer.

After a sharp falloff in firearms sales, Sturm Ruger & Co. Inc. is bouncing bounced back, and to “shake things up” its CEO announced a goal of selling 2 million guns, promising the National Rifle Association a donation of $2 for each gun sold, doubling what the amount it pledged following the 2012 election.

“I want to shake things up and get us going again,” said CEO Michael Fifer at the company’s annual meeting last week. “And my gosh, it's a start of another presidential election cycle. And so I've gone on the radio at the NRA show and announced the 2 million gun challenge.”

When asked whether the company could reach the goal, “I blurted out ‘no.’ But I didn't think we could do the one million gun challenge either, and we did.”

The company sold almost 487,000 guns from distributors to retailers in the first quarter, down from the 565,000 guns the Connecticut-based company (with a major facility in Newport) sold in the first quarter of 2014. But last year’s total was before sales plummeted in the industry, and especially at Sturm Ruger, which didn’t cut prices. All told, the company sold just shy of 1.7 million guns in 2014

“I’m not confident we can sell an extra 300 [thousand], but boy we are going to try,” Fifer said.

In financial terms, the company’s revenue of $137 million, was down compared to almost $170 million during the same quarter last year, but it was up 12 percent from the fourth quarter of last year.

The company’s quarterly net income was $15.5 million, or 81 cents a diluted share, down from $24.2 million last year, which means that shareholders will get a 17 cents a share dividend, which is based on earnings. Net income would have been about $8.7 million but the company had to depreciate its equipment more since it was so heavily used during the last gun boom.

New products, including the AR-556 modern sporting rifle and the LC9s pistol, represented $22.8 million or 17 percent of firearms sales in the first quarter of 2015. Cash is up to $30 million, after dipping down to $8 million at the end of last year, and the company spent about $2.8 million repurchasing stock.

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