SIDNEY, Neb. (AP) - Cabela's says strong sales of guns and ammunition helped drive its profit up 73 percent in the first quarter, surpassing expectations and briefly driving its shares to all-time highs on Thursday.
The retailer operates stores that sell gear for hunting, fishing and outdoor sports.
Consumer demand for firearms has surged in recent months on worries about the possibilities of increased regulation or bans of certain kinds of weapons in the wake of the December slayings of 20 first-graders and six adult staffers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
The shooting stirred up debate over gun control. A bill to expand background checks for gun purchases was introduced in the Senate, but it was voted down last week.
Sidney, Neb.-based Cabela's Inc. said net income rose to $49.8 million, or 70 cents per share, in the January-March quarter, up from $28.8 million, or 40 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. Analysts expected 59 cents per share, according to FactSet.
Revenue jumped 29 percent to $802.5 million from $623.5 million last year. Analysts expected revenue of $770.5 million.
The results beat Cabela's expectations as well. In March it said it expected earnings between 57 cents to 62 cents per share.
"First quarter results exceeded our expectations on every line of the income statement," said CEO Tommy Millner. He said revenue in the second half of March was much stronger than expected. Particularly strong were sales of guns, and bullets, along with shoes and clothing, he said.
Excluding guns and bullets, revenue in stores open at least one year rose 9 percent.
Millner said he is "comfortable" with analyst estimates for the year. Analysts expect net income of $2.72 per share on revenue of $3.12 billion.
Shares rose $8.71, or 15.5 percent, to $64.93 in afternoon trading, after earlier reaching an all-time high of $66.24. The stock had been up 35 percent since the beginning of the year.
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