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Smith & Wesson To Change Name To Reflect Diverse Holdings

Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson's current owner is getting a name change, although the guns will keep their famous name.

As iconic as the brand Smith & Wesson is, the name is not expansive enough for the company's ambitions. Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. is asking its shareholders to approve changing the name to American Outdoor Brands Corp. But its firearms will keep their famous name.

The company says it will likely change its ticker symbol to AOBC from the current SWHC. The name change has already been approved by the company's board of directors. Shareholders get a vote on Dec. 13, according to a statement from the company.

Smith & Wesson has been making guns since 1852. The move to rebrand comes as the company increasingly shifts its focus to what it calls "the growing markets for shooting, hunting, and rugged outdoor enthusiasts." The company made it a goal to diversify into the larger sports and outdoors market.

The company announced the strategy early this year. Over the years, Smith & Wesson has bought sports gear makers, as well as hunting knife and flashlight companies.

In a statement, CEO James Debney said the corporation owns "18 respected consumer brands" and "we intend to aggressively grow organically and through strategic acquisitions, focusing on brands and products that best meet the needs and lifestyle of our target consumers."

The company's strategy seems to be paying off. In the most recent quarter, its profits nearly doubled to $33 million.

In the complicated world of mergers and acquisitions, Smith & Wesson is the name that Saf-T-Hammer Corp. began using after it acquired Smith & Wesson Corp. from Tomkins PLC in 2001. The Wall Street Journal's Doug Cameron reports on the rebranding strategy.

"Smith & Wesson's push into the broader outdoor-sports market mirrors that of Vista Outdoor Inc., the largest commercial ammunition maker. Vista estimates that the U.S. outdoor-pursuits market is worth more than $60 billion a year in sales, excluding team sports, with fragmented segments, such as fishing, wildlife viewing and hiking equipment, each generating industry sales of more than $5 billion a year.

"Mr. Debney told investors in January that Smith & Wesson may create up to three new divisions for outdoor products alongside its existing gun and shooting accessories operations."

Forbes reports the company's stock rose on Monday as investors anticipated a Hillary Clinton win, betting that would spur gun sales in the short term.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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