Smith & Wesson triples profits in three months to October

A Smith & Wesson .357 magnum revolver cools down at a target range at the Los Angeles Gun Club on December 7, 2012 in Los Angeles, California Image copyright Getty Images

One of the world's most famous gun-makers, Smith & Wesson, has nearly tripled profits for the three months to October.

The firm said its net profit was $14.2m (£9.46m) for the period, compared with $5.2m for the same period last year.

The US gun maker said net sales rose 32.1% to $143.2m, with its firearms division accounting for $124.9m - an increase of 15.2%.

Its shares rose 4.65% on the news and have jumped 125% this year.

Smith & Wesson reported higher orders for its polymer pistols ranges, as well as long guns such as bolt-action rifles.

The results had beaten expectations and the company said it would raise 2016 guidance for both profits and revenue.

Cash flow for the six months to October was also positive, despite a build-up in inventory ahead of the Christmas shopping season, the company said.

Chief executive James Debney said that the balance sheet remained healthy.

Some analysts have said the surge in gun sales across the US is due to growing crime rates together with worries over restrictions on gun ownership - particularly in the wake of mass shooting incidents.

Gun ownership

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The right to bear arms in the US is enshrined in the constitution and is a key civil liberty

Gun ownership in the US and the exact meaning of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms has been a heavily debated topic for years.

Following the latest shooting in the US that left at least 14 people dead after gunmen attacked a community centre in San Bernardino, US President Barack Obama said the country must make it harder for potential attackers to obtain guns.

Demands for tougher legislation, however, are constantly met with much anger from pro-gun civil libertarians. Analysts say the argument is complicated.

"The [number one] driver of firearms sales is fear," Brian Ruttenbur, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets, told Bloomberg.

"Primarily, fear of registration restrictions, banning and things like that," he said.

In addition to being a leader in firearm manufacturing and design, Smith & Wesson said it provided "training to the global military, law enforcement, and consumer markets".

British conglomerate Tomkins owned Smith & Wesson from 1987 to 2001, while also owning baker Rank Hovis McDougall, earning Tomkins the sobriquet 'buns-to-guns'.

Walmart - the world's largest retailer - is also the biggest seller of guns in the US.

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