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Gunmaker Smith & Wesson says it had ‘the most successful year in the 169 year history of the company’

Revolver cylinders on a rack at the Smith & Wesson factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 2006. (J.B. Reed/Bloomberg/ Don Treeger / The Republican/TNS)

Claiming 42% growth in the U.S. firearms industry, Smith and Wesson said it more than doubled its sales during the fiscal year that ended in April.

Net sales hit $1.1 billion, up from $529.6 million a year earlier, the Springfield-based gunmaker told investors Thursday in its year-end earnings report.

Profits were $243.6 million, or $4.40 per diluted share, compared with $27.7 million or 50 cents a share a year earlier.

Smith & Wesson Brands Inc. stock, SWBI on the Nasdaq, traded at $19.92 a share at the close of trading Thursday. That was down 63 cents or 3.07% on the day.

The company rewarded shareholders with a $50 million share repurchase program designed to boost stock price, as well as a 60% increase in its quarterly dividend to 8 cents a share.

Mark Smith, president and CEO, said Smith & Wesson achieved the results in spite of what he called “the unthinkable challenges” facing the company and the country.

“Our employees more than doubled the prior year sales, passed a milestone of $1 billion in revenue, and by every financial and operating metric, have delivered the most successful year in the 169 year history of the company,” he said in a news release.

Gun sales are often driven by politics, including fear that President Joe Biden’s Democratic administration will pursue tighter gun restrictions.

Five of the 10 busiest days in the 23-year history of FBI background checks for gun buyers were in 2021. There have been more than 19 million background checks in the first four months of the year.

Smith & Wesson has three gun factories: the 575,000-square-foot facility in Springfield, a 150,000-square-foot facility in Connecticut and a 38,000-square-foot facility in Maine. The company’s Springfield plant and headquarters employs 1,600.

The company has faced opposition in recent years, including an ongoing lawsuit from the state of New Jersey over its marketing practices. Critics point out that its military-style rifles — called modern sporting rifles in the industry and assault rifles by others — have been used in mass shootings at Parkland, Florida, and elsewhere.

Such weapons are barred from sale in Massachusetts. State Rep. Bud Williams, D-Springfield, and others have called for Massachusetts to ban the manufacture of guns that cannot be sold on the civilian market here.

Smith & Wesson completed a spinoff in August of its outdoor products and accessories business. Comparison data for revenue and profits from a year ago only takes into account those parts of the business that are still a part of the company.

Smith & Wesson also announced in May that it will sell the hunting-focused Thompson/Center Arms brand.

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