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Shares of

Engineered Support Systems


shot to an all-time high Tuesday after the company said third-quarter earnings rose sharply and boosted its full-year estimates.

Recently, shares of the defense contractor were up $7.51, or 16%, at $54.33.

The company earned $12.4 million, or 72 cents a share, in the quarter ended July 31. This compares with earnings of $6.7 million, or 41 cents a share, in the third quarter last year. Revenue was $155.7 million, up 46% from last year's $106.6 million.

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Analysts were calling for earnings of 58 cents a share.

The company said sales in its light military support unit more than doubled to $111.4 million due in part to its acquisition of Technical and Management Services Corp. on May 1. Meanwhile, the company's electronics & automation systems revenue fell 17% to $21.6 million due to overall lower production on several of the segment's electronics programs.

"With the ongoing political and social unrest in areas of vital U.S. interest, supported by solid defense spending budgets, we expect our market opportunities to remain extremely robust for at least the next several years," said Chief Executive Jerry Daniels.

Looking ahead, the company sees revenue in 2003 of at least $550 million, which is $5 million to $15 million above its previous forecast and net earnings from continuing operations of between $2.40 and $2.45 per share. The expected earnings include restructuring charges.

Analysts expect earnings of $2.22 a share in 2003 and $545.2 million in sales.

And in 2004, Engineered Support now sees revenue up 12% to 15% to $620 million and $630 million with earnings from continuing operations around $3 a share.

Wall Street is calling for a profit of $2.57 a share on sales of $630.7 million.