Gross margin for the quarter was 37.8% compared with 31.5% for the first quarter last year.
The company's increased profitability was driven by consumer preference for its new products, reduced promotions versus the prior year, and solid progress on a number of its expense reduction initiatives.
Looking at its financial health, during the quarter, the company paid down $25.0 mln on its line of credit, reducing that balance to zero.
Its balance sheet remains strong with approximately $25.2 mln of cash and $135.9 mln of total net debt, as compared with nearly $200.0 mln of net debt at the end of the comparable quarter last year. The company has available an unused, $350 mln line of credit which is expandable to $500 mln.
Separately, the company said, "In our Firearms segment, we introduced several new products and extensions under our Performance Center, M&P, and Thompson/Center brands. New products, which we define as products launched within the past twelve months, represented 28.5% of our firearm revenue and included strong sales of our M&P Shield 380 EZ pistol, which we launched in February. That pistol has been extremely well received by our consumers and continues to gain momentum. Our Outdoor Products & Accessories segment generated approximately 25% of our total revenue in the quarter, and Crimson Trace further expanded its product offerings in this segment with the launch of several new rail mounted lights. Lastly, we achieved several milestones in the development of our new Logistics & Customer Services facility in Missouri, a strategic initiative that will ultimately allow us to lower our costs and better serve our customers."
Looking ahead, the company issued some solid guidance. The company expects to see second quarter earnings fall in the range of $0.11-0.15, excluding non-recurring items, which easily comes in ahead of current expectations. On the top line, the company expects to see sales of $150-160 mln, which also comes in ahead of expectations.
Looking into fiscal year 2019, the company expects to see earnings of $0.62-0.66, excluding non-recurring items, which is well ahead of current expectations and expects sales to be $620-630 mln, which also comes in ahead of expectations. In current trade, AOBC shares are up 35%.