Jim Armitage: Trigger happy amid the gloom on economy


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US Outlook It's the oldest investment adage in the book: when the economy's really on the edge, buy guns, ammo and tinned food. So should we assume from Smith & Wesson's financial performance that Americans are preparing for all-out Armageddon?

The most famous gunmaker in the world's shares shot up again this week after it raised its sales forecasts and said it was boosting its production capacity.

Coming not long before yesterday's US data showing the jobs market slowing sharply again, it would be tempting to assume that's because householders fear gangs of the marauding unemployed are poised to take over their cities in a sort of Judge Dredd world of terror.

This isn't entirely the case: Wall Street analysts point out the company's benefiting from a sales boost as NRA nuts stock up on guns before a potential clampdown if Obama keeps his place in the White House.

But Smith & Wesson has also enjoyed what its investor relations boys call "an increase in social acceptance", particularly among women and younger customers. In other words, more Americans really do want to take up arms. Scary.