Align-Rite International easily surpassed Street estimates in its fourth quarter Monday, posting a profit of $839,000, or 17 cents a share, on sales of $15.2 million.
A survey of analysts by First Call Corp. predicted the chip-equipment manufacturer would earn 11 cents a share in the quarter.
Its shares closed up 7/16 to 20 1/2 ahead of the earnings report.
The $15.2 million in sales represents a 20 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $903,000, or 19 cents a share, on sales of $12.7 million.
"Our fourth quarter results benefited from increasing demand from our customers and our success in expanding our market share, which served to more than offset a decline in demand for photomask products from the thin film head sector of the industry," said CEO James MacDonald in a prepared release.
Align-Rite shares moved as high as 34 7/8 in March after falling to a 52-week low of 12 3/8 in June.
Both analysts covering the stock rate it a "strong buy."
First Call consensus expects it to earn 72 cents a share in fiscal 2001.>