Gunmaker predicts US hunting boom will outlast coronavirus social-distancing rules

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America’s newfound love of hunting and other outdoor activities will likely continue after the eradication of COVID-19, according to gun manufacturer American Outdoor Brands Inc.

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“There has already been a wallet share shift" from indoor activities like movies and eating out, said Brian Murphy, CEO of American Outdoor Brands, on the company’s second-quarter earnings call. “Obviously, there'll be some return once a vaccine is widely distributed, but it's people, at least, again, what we're seeing, intend to continue this, now that they have this newfound activity that a lot of times, they didn't have the time for before or to even try."

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AOUT AMERICAN OUTDOOR BRANDS INC. 17.99 +2.15 +13.57%

Hunting license sales have risen 12% nationwide this year as Americans have opted for socially-distant outdoor activities that allow them to adhere to health guidelines, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing the firearms trade group National Shooting Sports Foundation. The surge in participation is expected to result in 1 million new hunters this year.

The renewed interest in hunting and other outdoor activities like fishing and camping were among the reasons why American Outdoor Brands on Tuesday evening, alongside its quarterly results, raised its outlook for the remainder of the year.

The company now sees 2021 net sales to be between $235 million and $245 million, up from prior guidance of $195 million to $205 million. Earnings are now forecast to be in the range of 52 cents to 70 cents per share.

American Outdoor Brands' second-quarter revenue rose 66% year-over-year to $79.1 million. The sales boost helped American Outdoor Brands swing to a $7.3 million profit from a $393,000 loss a year ago.

Also boosting gun sales this year has been the surge in demand for firearms in the wake of the civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man, who died while in Minneapolis police custody, and as buyers rushed to purchase guns ahead of the 2020 election in preparation for a potential change in policy.

Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting chief economist Jurgen Bauer said earlier this month that more than 20 million firearms were sold in the first 11 months of the year, a record. November sales were up 49% year-over-year to 2.1 million units, making for the smallest annual increase of 2020.

Skyrocketing gun sales have caused an ammunition shortage, according to Vista Outdoors Inc. The shooting-sports company said last month it was in the process of working through an “unprecedented” $1 billion backlog of orders.

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