Sturm Ruger fourth-quarter sales jump 52 percent

Wed Feb 27, 2013 6:16pm EST

(Reuters) - Gun maker Sturm Ruger Inc (RGR.N) reported a 52 percent jump in quarterly sales as people rushed to stock up on firearms amid debates over implementing stricter gun laws, sending its shares up 3 percent after market.

Recent concerns over possible changes to gun laws following mass shootings, unease over the economic backdrop and the increased acceptance of gun ownership among women and older people have driven up sales over the last few months.

Data from the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) -- commonly used to gauge the industry's performance -- show background checks for firearm sales rose nearly 50 percent in December.

The company, which competes with Smith & Wesson Holding Corp (SWHC.O) and privately held Glock Inc and Taurus, said revenue rose to $141.8 million in the quarter ended December 31.

Rival Smith & Wesson will report third-quarter results next week.

On Tuesday, Big 5 Sporting Goods Corp (BGFV.O) posted fourth-quarter results that beat analysts' estimates, helped by an increase in demand for firearms and ammunition products in the United States.

The sporting goods retailer also forecast a first-quarter profit far above Wall Street estimates, citing increased demand for firearms and favorable winter weather.

Southport, Connecticut-based Sturm Ruger's shares, which have gained about a fifth in value in the past year, closed at $53.51 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

(Reporting by Arpita Mukherjee and Aditi Shrivastava in Bangalore; Editing by Sreejiraj Eluvangal)