Shares in AeroVironment Inc. gained as much as 15 percent early Wednesday after the company on Tuesday posted fourth-quarter profit that was up because of a jump in demand.

For the quarter ended April 30, AeroVironment reported net income of $6.4 million (30 cents per share), a 14 percent increase over $5.6 million (27 cents) in the same period a year earlier. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial were expecting earnings of 27 cents per share.

Sales for the Monrovia-based maker of tiny, unmanned surveillance aircraft, rose 27 percent to $64.3 million, topping Wall Street's predictions of $59.3 million.

Sales at the company's unmanned aircraft systems segment rose 25 percent to $56 million.

For the full year, AeroVironment earned $21.4 million ($1 per share), compared with $20.7 million ($1.22), in 2007. Sales climbed 24 percent to $216 million.

Shares in AeroVironment were up 13 percent to $28.19 in early trading Wednesday.

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