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US firearms company Sturm, Ruger & Co reported better-than-expected quarterly results even while noting that consumer demand for guns fell following outsized demand throughout much of 2016.

The Connecticut-based company said net income slid to $22.2m or $1.21 a share in the three months ended April 1, compared with $23.3m or $1.21 a share in the year-ago period. That topped analysts’ expectations of $1.03 a share.

Net sales decreased 3 per cent from a year ago to $167.4m but were above analysts’ estimates of $163m.

Indeed, the company said estimated unit sell-through from independent distributors to retailers decreased 7 per cent in the first quarter from the prior-year period. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) data, considered a gauge of gun demand, fell 11 per cent over the same period.

The company attributed decreased consumer demand in the first quarter to “stronger-than-normal demand during most of 2016, likely bolstered by the political campaigns for the November 2016 elections”. It also noted that retailer demand had decreased as some had committed to certain product categories like modern sporting rifles ahead of the November elections.

US gun manufacturers rallied ahead of the US elections on expectations that candidate Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, would call for stricter gun control measures if she won the White House. But Sturm, Ruger shares fell 19 per cent since the election in November to the end of last year on expectations that Donald Trump would take a softer stance on gun regulation.

Sturm, Ruger also said its board had expanded its share buyback programme to $100m.

Sentiment, however, appears to have improved once again in 2017. Shares in the company, which have advanced 9 per cent so far this year, rose nearly 4 per cent in after-hours trade.

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