Sturm, Ruger & Company (RGR), Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (SWHC): Which Firearm Stock Should You Pick

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Sturm, Ruger & CompanyWith the recent shooting in Santa Monica, gun control has again become the center of political debate. Only this time, the availability and use of assault rifles for domestic purposes is being questioned. As a result, customers are buying their preferred weapons while they still can, which is benefiting the entire gun manufacturing industry.

Which Gun Manufacturer To Pick?

Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR) and Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) are the leading U.S based gun manufacturers.  Each has a wide range of offerings, but Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR) has been growing at an exceptional rate. Over the last 5 years, shares Sturm, Ruger have appreciated by over 600%, while its operating cash flows have surged by 1680%. Meanwhile, shares of Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) have appreciated by nearly 80%, while its operating cash flows have grown by 57% over the same period.

Although Smith and Wesson has performed well over the last 5 years, the stellar growth rate of its competitor gives little reason to pick Smith & Wesson over Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR). From the standpoint of valuations, both companies appear to be significantly undervalued. In fact Sturm, Ruger operates with little or no debt, while Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC)’s debt/equity ratio stands at 32%. Furthermore, Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR)’s net margin of 14.7% is higher than Smith & Wesson’s 11.1%.

Why Sturm, Ruger?

One of the main reasons why Sturm, Ruger has outperformed Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) is because of its favorable product mix. Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR) designs and manufactures firearms for domestic consumers. On the other hand Smith & Wesson has a diverse range of offerings, which caters to the needs of domestic consumers along with law enforcement and military agencies. In fact Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) generates 20% of its revenues from the sale of military grade firearms (including assault rifles).

With the kind nuisance that assault weapons have created, there is a chance that assault rifles could be banned for domestic consumers. If U.S citizens are concerned about their safety, they can buy firearms, just not military style. This very argument has heated up several discussions, and consumers are now scrambling to get their hands on their preferred firearms while they still can.

As a result Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ:SWHC) recently posted record quarterly sales of $719 million. But I don’t think that this rally is sustainable over the longer run. This is because its sales bonanza is mainly driven by just a sense of urgency stemming from the threat of legislative changes. But the bottom-line remains that Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE:RGR) doesn’t manufacture military grade firearms, which isolates it from such risks.

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