Why Smith & Wesson Holding Corp Shares Were Decimated Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of Smith & Wesson Holding (NASDAQ: SWHC  ) have lost about 13% of their value Wednesday after the company released fiscal first-quarter earnings that contained guidance far below what Wall Street had expected.

So what: Smith & Wesson's first quarter produced $131.9 million in revenue and $0.26 in earnings per share. Both results were well below the year-ago quarter's results -- revenue was 23% weaker and EPS fell 35% year over year -- and the top line missed analyst expectations of $134 million, but the company's bottom line beat estimates by a penny. However, Smith & Wesson now expects to earn only $0.89-$0.94 per share for the full fiscal year on a revenue range of $530 million-$540 million. Both guidance ranges are far lower than earlier guidance, which anticipated full-year EPS in the $1.30-$1.40 range on $585 million-$600 million in revenue.

Now what: This has not been a good year for publicly traded gun-makers, as a years-long frenzy of gun buying appears to have temporarily ebbed following President Obama's failed efforts to implement new firearms restrictions. This was the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year revenue declines for Smith & Wesson, something which last occurred in late 2010 after gun-friendly politicians were swept into the House of Representatives.

Firearms manufacturers have gone through such ebbs and flows before. The good news for Smith & Wesson and its peers is that the FBI's records of monthly background checks for firearm sales show year-over-year growth in background checks of 8% and 9% for June and July, respectively, after far fewer background checks were conducted in January and February than were conducted a year earlier. While this higher number of background checks may not result in a return to strong growth, it at least indicates that Americans are still interested in firearms ownership, and that's a long-term positive for Smith & Wesson.

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