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Gun manufacturers: Making money and killing us

By Dian Vujovich

Every day 34 people are shot and killed by firearms across these United States of America, according to various news sources. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School killing of 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of  6 and 7, I heard the Reverend Al Sharpton tell a story about an experience he’d had years ago. He recalled his first experience as the preacher conducting a service for a young child who was then buried in a little white casket. He was deeply moved by the experience and seeing the small coffin. Then said that  now there were going to be 20 little white caskets for all of us to see.


I have been to the funeral of a child and seen one of those little white coffins. It’s a mind picture I haven’t forgotten. Imaging 20 little white caskets all lined up in a row, as Sharpton put it, made my jaw drop.


I am no fan of guns. Never have been. Never will be. I did not grow up in a family of hunters and don’t get that sport shooting thing.


But I do know that money—and making it— matters more than life itself these days. And that as a financial writer who writes about  the market, I know that there can be money made in the so-called sin stocks like those of publicly traded companies that manufacture guns and ammunition.


With that in mind, while researching gun manufacturers I learned that most companies that do so are privately held ones. The Groupe Hestal (they makes Browning and Winchester firearms), Colt, Beretta, and the Bushmaster, etc, are all private companies, according to one source. The Bushmaster AR15, the brand used by the shooter in the elementary school killings, is made by the Freedom Group, a privately held company.


Two  publicly traded gun manufacturers in the U.S are  Smith and Wesson Holding Company (SWHC) and Sturm, Ruger & Co. (RGR).


On Friday, Dec. 21st, SWHC closed at $8.10 per share, according to Yahoo Finance. During the last 52-weeks it has traded as high as $11.85 a share and as low as $4.25.  On Dec. 14th, the day of the school shootings, the stock closed at $9.13 a share. Basically, the stock lost about a buck a share over the past week. Not much of a loss when compared to the loss of  lives, if you ask me.


RGR closed on the 21st at $43.59 per share. Over the past 52-week period it has traded as high as $60.11 and as low as 33.13 a share. At the close of the market on the day of the shootings, 12/14/12, its final trade was $45.57. That’s down a couple of bucks in a week.  Again, not much of a loss when compared to the loss of lives, if you ask me.


Since making money trumps all at this point in time, and gun sales seem to be on the rise as those who fear changes in our nation’s gun laws prefer stockpiling weapons to changing their points of view, some investors might see those two companies as value buys.


I don’t. But some of you may.

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