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iRobot climbs as co. lifts 1st-quarter forecasts

NEW YORK (AP) -- iRobot's stock rose nearly 6 percent on Tuesday as the robotic technology company raised its fiscal first-quarter earnings and revenue forecasts.

THE SPARK: On Monday iRobot said that it now expects to earn 16 to 20 cents per share on revenue of $102 million to $104 million. The company previously predicted that its earnings would be flat to 7 cents per share for the quarter on revenue in a range of $98 million to $102 million.

Analysts polled by FactSet anticipate earnings of 2 cents per share on revenue of $100.8 million.

THE ANALYSIS: Brian Gesuale of Raymond James said in a client note that a recent order for FirstLook robots worth $14 million "seals the fate for an in-line or better performance for the defense business" in the quarter. The FirstLook, used in infantry and special operations missions including building clearing and raids, is designed for hard-to-access places such as tunnels and ditches. iRobot also makes the Roomba vacuum cleaner robot.

While the Bedford, Mass. company also announced the resignation of Chief Financial Officer John Leahy, Gesuale said that successor Alison Dean "has big shoes to fill, but comes in as well-regarded with an intimate understanding of the iRobot business model and strategy."

Dean joined iRobot in 2005, prior to the company's public stock offering, and has held a variety of positions. She previously held the position of principal accounting officer and has been responsible for evaluating the company's investment decisions, including acquisition targets.

SHARE ACTION: Shares of iRobot Corp. gained $1.33, or 5.9 percent, to $24.08 in afternoon trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of $16.25 to $28.91.