AeroVironment Inc.’s AVAV +6.68% fiscal fourth-quarter earnings edged up 0.9% as the company recorded an increase in unmanned aircraft revenue, though margins weakened.
Shares of the unmanned-aircraft manufacturer were up 5.5% to $26.85 after hours as earnings beat analyst expectations and as the company issued an upbeat outlook for the new fiscal year.
AeroVironment projected full-year earnings of $1.41 to $1.51 a share and revenue of $348 million to $370 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had predicted $1.44 and $349 million, respectively.
The company, which makes pilotless drones for the military and rechargeable-battery technology for electric vehicles, has generally posted stronger profits over the past year after clearing some research-and-development hurdles in the prior year. However, a delayed delivery hurt AeroVironment’s third-quarter results.
The company’s 2011 fiscal year was one of transition, as its electric vehicle charging technology and digital Puma unmanned aircraft systems successfully progressed from development to production. Expenses from their development had been a burden on the bottom line, though never as much as analysts had predicted.
For the quarter ended April 30, AeroVironment posted a profit of $17.8 million, or 80 cents a share, up from $17.6 million, or 79 cents a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped 4.4% to $110.7 million.
Analysts had projected per-share earnings of 72 cents and revenue of $111 millon.
Gross margin narrowed to 44.8% from 46.4%. Research and development expenses fell 35%.
Contract services revenue declined 24% while product sales were 40% higher.
Unmanned aircraft revenue climbed 7% and the efficient energy systems segment saw a 12% decrease in revenue.
Funded backlog–unfilled orders for which customers have appropriated funding–rose 12% quarter over quarter to $93.2 million, after falling 27% in the third quarter.
The stock, which hit its 52-week low last month, is off 19% since the start of the year, through the close.