Shares of

Blue Rhino

(RINO)

vaulted higher after the company reported a rise in quarterly earnings and raised its outlook for the year.

The Winston-Salem, N.C.-based company, which provides propane cylinder exchange services, posted first-quarter net income of $1.2 million, or 7 cents a share, up from $107,000, or a penny a share, in the year-ago period. Analysts were expecting the company to earn 4 cents a share, according to Thomson Financial/First Call. Total revenue rose to $54.8 million from $36.6 million.

The shares were recently up 86 cents, or 5.2%, to $17.58 on the

Nasdaq

.

"The trend toward cylinder exchange continues to be fueled by a combination of factors that we believe bode well for us," the company said. "These include the adoption in many states of National Fire Protection Association guidelines mandating the installation of an overfill prevention device on all cylinders refilled after April 1, 2002, as well as support by large retailers seeking to make the purchase of propane-fueled barbecue grills and other products convenient to their customers by promoting the availability of a full cylinder at the time of purchase."

Looking forward, Blue Rhino expects second-quarter revenue to be in the range of $40 million to $45 million, resulting in break-even earnings and EBITDA of $3.4 million to $3.6 million. Analysts are targeting second-quarter profit of 5 cents a share, according to Thomson.

For the fiscal year ending July 31, 2003, the company raised estimates. Blue Rhino is projecting full-year revenue of $250 million to $255 million, resulting in earnings of 91 cents to 94 cents and EBITDA of between $32 million to $35 million. Analysts are expecting 2003 revenue to come in at $247 million.