Gun sales cool following post-San Bernardino surge

Sales typically spike after news of mass shooting

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) - Hunting and outdoor equipment retailer Cabela's just reported lackluster earnings and sales, another sign that demand for guns may be waning following the election of Donald Trump. People no longer need to worry as much about tough gun control laws.

But there was another factor at play. The CEO of Cabela's said in its earnings release Thursday that it was tough to match the huge demand for guns that occurred in December 2015 after two terrorists killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California.

Cabela's CEO Tommy Millner said sales started off last quarter strong, but that things "became challenging as we faced the headwind of lapping the impact that the San Bernardino tragedy had on these categories a year ago."

Analysts and investors didn't have the chance to get any more color from Millner though. Cabela's is in the process of being acquired by privately held retailer Bass Pro Shops, and the company has suspended its earnings calls until the deal closes.

Shares of Cabela's fell 5% on the weak report.

Gun sales have typically spiked following high-profile mass shootings, particularly after killings that occurred during President Obama's tenure.

Part of that was due to people looking to own weapons for their own protection, but a bigger reason was that firearms enthusiasts feared tougher crackdowns on gun ownership in Washington as well as at state levels.

"I think the entire gun industry was planning on, and I think the entire country was thinking, that Hillary was going to win," Brian Skinner, the CEO of Kalashnikov USA, said in a recent interview with CNNMoney.

"And I know there was huge demand, all the manufacturers had huge orders, and then the day after the election, distributors were canceling orders left and right just because they realized Trump's coming in now."

That's bad news for several publicly traded gun companies. Shares of gun and ammo maker Vista Outdoor have plunged 43% this year. The company reported a terrible quarter earlier this month.

Shares of American Outdoor Brands, the company formerly known as Smith & Wesson, are down nearly 10% too. Sturm Ruger has fallen 6% so far in 2017 while sporting goods retailer Dick's, which also sells firearms, is down 8%.

These three companies are all due to report their latest quarterly results within the next few weeks.

CNNMoney's Aaron Smith contributed to this story.


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