Ceradyne ( CRDN) said it expects to hit the high end of its 2006 earnings forecast.

The Costa Mesa, Calif., maker of body armor said it expects earnings for the year to be at the upper end of its Nov. 1 projection of $4.45 to $4.55 a share. The company said sales rose 56% from a year ago for the fourth quarter to $178 million and 80% for the year to $663 million.

Analysts were looking for a full-year profit on $4.49 a share on revenue of $656 million.

"We are particularly pleased with the surge in orders and backlog which provides good visibility for 2007," CEO Joel Moskowitz said in a Tuesday morning press release. "Our positive operating performance as it relates to lightweight ceramic body armor is responsible, to a large degree, for the record preliminary results reported today. Our strategy continues to focus on meeting the government's requirements for lightweight ceramic body armor, while proactively seeking to diversify our product lines."