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Credence Systems soars past analysts&#039 estimates

Credence Systems Corp. (Nasdaq: CMOS) shattered analysts' estimates in its first quarter Wednesday, pocketing $16.9 million, or 71 cents a share, on sales of $101.8 million.

First Call consensus expected the maker of automatic test equipment for the semiconductor industry to earn 52 cents a share in the quarter.

Credence shares closed up 4 1/4 to a 52-week high of 103 1/4 ahead of the earnings report.

In the quarter, Credence posted gross profit margins of 57.7 percent, up from 42.3 percent in the year-ago quarter.

"We are very pleased with this quarter's results which were an all-time high for revenue, earnings and bookings," said CEO Graham Siddall in a prepared release. "Bookings were very strong, with a book-to-bill of 1.8 and nine new account wins this quarter, the largest number of new wins for Credence in any single quarter."

The $101.8 million in sales marks a 284 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $6.6 million, or 32 cents a share, on sales of $26.5 million.

Last quarter, Credence Systems topped analysts' estimates, earning $8.1 million, or 35 cents a share, on sales of $80.2 million.

Its shares fell to a 52-week low of 17 1/4 in March before surging to Wednesday's record close.

All nine analysts tracking the stock maintain either a "buy" or "strong buy" recommendation.

First Call consensus expects it to earn $2.60 a share in the fiscal year.