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Westport shares jump on investor optimism

NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of Westport Innovations Inc., which makes natural gas engines, jumped more than 10 percent Friday on investor optimism that its fortunes will begin to improve in the second half of next year.

THE SPARK: Jefferies analyst Laurence Alexander backed his "Buy" rating and $45 price target on Westport stock, saying that while the first half of 2013 will be "choppy," the Canadian company is poised for growth after that.

THE BIG PICTURE: Westport said Thursday that its third-quarter loss more than doubled to $32.5 million, or 59 cents per share. Excluding one-time items, the company posted an adjusted loss of 46 cents per share for the recent quarter.

Revenue fell 6 percent to $76.1 million.

The results were worse than Wall Street expected. Analysts, on average, forecast a loss of 40 cents per share on $85.1 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

Westport also projected 2012 revenue between $340 million and $350 million, below analysts' estimates of $366.9 million.

THE ANALYSIS: Alexander said the third-quarter results came in below his expectations, and he predicted that the next two or three quarters will also be tough on the company's operating results. The company's partnerships with automakers and its upcoming product launches remain on track, he said.

THE SHARES: Up $2.40, or 10.2 percent, to $25.97 in heavy afternoon trading, after peaking at $26.38 earlier in the session. Over the past 52 weeks the stock has traded between $21.93 and $50.19.