Shares of EZCorp ( EZPW) jumped 14% Wednesday after the pawn-loan company's first-quarter results easily beat expectations.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, EZCorp earned $9.8 million, or 23 cents a share, up from $6.8 million, or 17 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected earnings of 20 cents a share.

Revenue rose 21% to $91.7 million, surpassing Wall Street's expectation of $85.5 million.

"The demand for our loan products continues to be strong as consumers seek lower cost alternatives to the fee-based services offered by traditional financial institutions," said President and CEO Joe Rotunda in a statement.

The company targets second-quarter earnings of 23 cents a share, above Wall Street's estimate of 21 cents. For all of fiscal 2007, EZCorp now sees earnings of 85 cents a share. Analysts' forecast called for a profit of 81 cents a share.

Shares of EZCorp recently were trading at $16.30, up $1.94, on nearly double their average volume.

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