NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of Bare Escentuals Inc. soared Thursday following the cosmetics company's better-than-expected first-quarter earnings results.

Late Wednesday, the San Francisco-based company reported profit of 18 cents per share for the period ended March 29. The results beat the 14 cents-per-share estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. Analysts' estimates generally exclude one-time items.

Sales fell 11 percent to $124.3 million, but still topped Wall Street's forecast for $118 million in revenue.

"We were encouraged with the results, especially in light of the challenging consumer environment," William Chappell of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey wrote in a client note.

The analyst boosted his 2009 earnings per share forecast to 85 cents from 69 cents and raised his 2010 estimate to 95 cents from 83 cents. He reaffirmed a "Buy" rating.

Thomas Weisel Partners' Jim Duffy maintained an "Overweight" rating, saying he is becoming more confident that Bare Escentuals will end the year with stable revenue and better earnings. The analyst increased his price target to $9 from $8.

Jason Gere of RBC Capital Markets held a similar view.

"2009 remains a transitional year, but we can't deny being slightly encouraged by the results, and are hopeful we can see a return to double-digit earnings per share growth in 2010," he wrote.

The analyst raised his price target to $7 from $6 and reiterated a "Sector Perform" rating.

Bare Escentuals' stock jumped $2.84, or 42.8 percent, to $9.48 in afternoon trading. The shares have traded between $2.45 and $24.28 over the past year.

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