UPDATE 1-Aerovironment beats estimates on strong margins, shares rise

Tue Dec 4, 2012 6:42pm EST

Dec 4 (Reuters) - Aerovironment Inc posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit as its unmanned aircraft unit sold more fixed-price products, sending its shares up 9 percent after the bell.

Higher sales of its industrial electric vehicle charging product, Posicharge, and overhead cost reduction also contributed to the margins, Chief Executive Tim Conver said on a conference call.

Aerovironment draws about 80 percent of its revenue from the unmanned aircraft systems segment, which is known for drones like the Raven, Wasp and Puma.

Earnings rose to $8.7 million, or 39 cents per share, for the second quarter, from $6.6 million, or 30 cents per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell marginally to $80.28 million. Gross margins rose to $35.6 million from $30.6 million.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 22 cents per share on revenue of $77.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company maintained its 2013 earnings forecast of between $1.41 and $1.51 per share on revenue of between $348 million and $370 million.

Monrovia, California-based Aerovironment's shares closed at $20.26 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.