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AeroVironment's profit soars 76%

Monrovia-based AeroVironment's earnings rise to $11.5 million, helped by an increase in sales of drones to the U.S. military.

March 09, 2011|By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

Bolstered by an increase in sales of drones to the U.S. military, Monrovia-based AeroVironment Inc. posted a 76% profit gain in its fiscal third quarter.

Earnings for the quarter that ended Jan. 29 rose to $11.5 million, or 52 cents a share, compared with $6.5 million, or 30 cents, a year earlier. Analysts on average had forecast a profit of 38 cents a share.

The results were reported after the close of regular trading. AeroVironment shares closed at $28.61, up 36 cents. They rose in after-hours trading, at one point up about 12% at $31.98.

AeroVironment is the Pentagon's top supplier of the small, remotely controlled planes, which include the Raven, Wasp and Puma models. The technology enables troops on the ground to see what lies over a hill or down the road. The company also makes charging systems for electric vehicles.

Revenue for the quarter was $84.4 million, up more than 39% from $60.9 million a year earlier. The jump was due to a 30% increase in drone sales to $71.7 million. AeroVironment said that its sales of electric charging systems jumped 119% to $12.7 million.

In a conference call, AeroVironment Chief Executive Timothy E. Conver said the company installed more than 1,000 charging stations for residential and business customers spread across 18 states.

"Our vision of the electric vehicle charging ecosystem has become a reality," he said. The firm began rolling out home charging docks to accommodate Japanese carmaker Nissan and its all-electric Leaf passenger car.

AeroVironment bumped up spending on research and development 52% to about $7.9 million in the quarter. The company is in the midst of developing a high-endurance spy plane, dubbed the Global Observer, which is designed to fly at 65,000 feet for a week at a time.

william.hennigan@latimes.com

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