Guns are great. Never mind all of those crazy "statistics" about how if you own a gun your chances of being shot go up by a million percent. And they're not just for those of you who have the definitive Charlton Heston collection on Blu-ray -- we can all own a little piece of the Second Amendment. Guns may not only be the perfect household accessories; they also can greatly enhance the returns of your portfolio. What better way to protect your retirement than with firepower?
Give me a Smith n' Wesson before today's tradin' session
Good golly, Miss Molly, it is great to be in the business of slinging nines. The official sponsor of the gold rush of 1849, Smith & Wesson (NYS: SWHC) just reported an absolutely explosive quarter.
Revenues shot up over 48% to a record $136 million. Want to talk about a high margin business? Gross sales margins were nearly 38% due to increased volume on highly profitable lines and solid relationships with suppliers. From a year ago, net income went from $2.3 million to $18.9 million. Apparently, people spent the last quarter preparing their arsenals for... well, people were preparing their arsenals. The company carries no debt and over $60 million in cash, which would make the headquarters a prime target for robbery if it wasn't protected by Clint Eastwood and an empty chair. I could continue on with the numbers game, but you get the picture Smith & Wesson is on fire.
Very few businesses can gauge their product demand by consulting the FBI, but gun companies can. The sharp increases in revenue and unit sales are directly tied to a sharp increase in FBI background checks. If you know someone at the bureau, you may want to check in occasionally and see if the list is growing. If it is, then it's time to buy some Smith & Wesson.
The company had a $392 million backlog at the end of July, and 2013 guidance was increased, so don't think this gun-slinging corporation is done taking names quite yet.
The Obama effect
If you have an interest in Smith & Wesson, you should also lend an ear to Sturm Ruger (NYS: RGR) , or Alliant Techsystems (NYS: ATK) . These two companies are the other major publicly traded consumer firearms providers.
I mention consumer firearms over your average military and professional firearms companies because the consumer gun business is the one to keep an eye on in the upcoming months. Depending on the outcome of November's election, things could get even better for these purveyors of cold steel.
An interesting phenomenon occurs when a democrat is elected into office. As mentioned by a Fool blogger, consumer gun sales historically rise during democrat-run governments. That may sound crazy, as democrats are typically seen as the ones who want to end all of the fun and reel in gun ownership, but that's precisely why guns sell so well during those years. For anyone who owns a gun or who is thinking of buying one, a democrat in office threatens their abilities to do so, and therefore they stock up on firepower.
According to the NRA, only 70 million-80 million Americans legally own guns, so there is plenty of room for expansion. Handguns lead the race with nearly 1/3 of all firearms in the U.S. being a gun that is of very little use in a hunting setting, but apparently of tremendous value in greater American suburbia.
Shoot from the hip
Smith & Wesson's stock price is up over 15% so far today due to its enormous earnings results, so it may not be the ideal time to jump in. If we look at valuations, we see that Alliant Techsystems trades for a little over seven times forward earnings, while Sturm Ruger is more richly valued on a P/E basis at 16 times earnings, and Smith & Wesson carries a premium valuation of 26 times earnings.
If you want to be in a bulletproof business and feel no moral hazard (honestly, I'm not judging), gun stocks may be one of the best industries to get into, especially if Obama secures another four years in the Oval Office. If not, there are plenty of other morally hazardous industries that sport phenomenal stocks, such as tobacco, among others.
If you'd like some more ideas about stocks that will help you retire in comfort, fully armed of course, check out this free report. It will get you on the path to retirement riches.
The article Arm Your Portfolio With Guns originally appeared on Fool.com.
Fool contributor Michael Lewis owns none of the stocks mentioned above. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeyLewy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.