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Gunmaker Sturm, Ruger & Co. 1Q profit up 53 pct.

SOUTHPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Gunmaker Stum, Ruger & Co.'s net income jumped 53 percent as gun sales surged. Its stock rose in late trading after it announced a quarterly dividend that was almost twice as big as it paid a year ago.

Demand for guns and ammunition has been strong as gun enthusiasts rushed to buy ahead of proposed laws that would limit sales on some kinds of firearms. Although federal gun-control legislation stalled, some states, including Connecticut, have passed tougher rules.

In one sign of tight supplies, the Southport, Conn.-based company said that distributers who sell its guns to retailers had just 59,200 units in inventory as of Dec. 31, down from 135,600 a year earlier.

Sturm, Ruger makes semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles as well as traditional hunting rifles and pistols.

It earned $23.7 million, or $1.20 per share, for the quarter that ended March 30. A year earlier net income was $15.5 million, or 79 cents per share.

Revenue rose 39 percent to $155.9 million.

The company pays a variable dividend based on the size of its profits. It said it would pay out 49 cents per share on May 24 to shareholders of record on May 10. A year earlier it paid 21 cents per share.

Sturm, Ruger shares $1.92, or 3.9 percent, to close at $50.97 before the results were released. They rose another 63 cents to $51.60 in after-hours trading.