Will Smith & Wesson Earnings Beat Sturm, Ruger and TASER?

Smith & Wesson (NASDAQ: SWHC  ) will release its quarterly report on Tuesday, and investors have been a bit on edge lately about the company's performance. After topping out earlier this year, Smith & Wesson stock has topped out, and the gunmaker is seen producing weaker growth than rival Sturm, Ruger (NYSE: RGR  ) as well as stun-gun specialist TASER (NASDAQ: TASR  ) . Should shareholders be worried about its coming quarterly announcement?

Smith & Wesson has benefited for years from fears that the current administration would seek to impose new gun-control limitation, spurring would-be gun-buyers to accelerate their purchases in order to avoid any future regulation. Yet with those regulations having largely not come to pass, some think that Smith & Wesson will now have to pay the price for customers having stocked up on products before they absolutely needed them. Let's take an early look at what's been happening with Smith & Wesson over the past quarter and what we're likely to see in its report.

Stats on Smith & Wesson

Analyst EPS Estimate

$0.21

Change From Year-Ago EPS

(12.5%)

Revenue Estimate

$137.52 million

Change From Year-Ago Revenue

0.7%

Earnings Beats in Past 4 Quarters

2

Source: Yahoo! Finance.

Will Smith & Wesson earnings surprise investors this quarter?
In recent months, analysts have had mixed views on Smith & Wesson earnings, cutting their October-quarter estimates by a penny per share but boosting their full-year fiscal 2015 projections by $0.02 per share. The stock has risen about 6% since early September.

Smith & Wesson confirmed bearish investors' fears with its July quarter earnings report. Even though the gunmaker managed to boost its earnings by 48% on a 26% jump in revenue, Smith & Wesson said that it would likely producer lower sales and net income in the October quarter than investors had previously expected. Even with the company having taken steps to boost its gross profit margins, including cost-cutting and expense management, Smith & Wesson stock fell sharply on the news.

Yet the interesting thing from an investing angle about Smith & Wesson is that it looks like a classic value stock. Its earnings multiple is less than 10, producing a valuation that's about a third lower than Sturm, Ruger's and far lower than TASER's earnings multiple of about 50. That led Smith & Wesson to authorize a new share buyback program back in October, adding $15 million to go with a larger $100 million program that recently expired. It has also raised some speculation that Smith & Wesson might become a takeover target, either by Sturm, Ruger or by an unrelated buyers like a private-equity firm.

The big question that Smith & Wesson faces is whether any halt in earnings growth will prove to be temporary. If gun-owners have indeed bought more guns than they otherwise would have in anticipation of tighter regulation, then it could produce a short-term drop in demand. But in the long run, there are few signs that gun-buyers will back off from replacing or updating their arsenal with new products. Moreover, a new contract with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to provide firearms to law enforcement officials there shows the reputation the company has even among its peers.

In the Smith & Wesson earnings report, watch to see whether the company changes its views on its overall strategy going forward. Even if the gunmaker has to endure a sluggish period, it seems clear that the long-term gun-control measures that investors thought would boost TASER at Smith & Wesson's expense appear unlikely to become reality anytime soon.

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