(Reuters) - Garmin Ltd <GRMN.O> reported a rise in revenue from personal navigation devices (PNDs) for the first time in several quarters, helping it smash analysts' expectations.
The strong fourth-quarter performance, which was also helped by a jump in sales of outdoor and fitness products, lifted the company's stock 12 percent to $50.79 in trading before the bell.
The No. 1 U.S. navigation device maker also forecast 2012 results ahead of consensus estimates, suggesting its strategy of bundling personal navigation devices with high-margin mapping services was beginning to pay off.
It expects profit of $2.45 to $2.60 a share on a proforma basis and revenue of $2.7 billion to $2.8 billion for the full year.
Analysts were looking for a profit of $2.41 a share, excluding items, and revenue of $2.55 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
With the rapid decline in demand for PNDs as a must-have gadget brought on by the rising popularity of GPS-enabled smartphones, Garmin and its European rival TomTom <TOM2.AS> have been forced to look for new areas of growth.
Last year, Garmin said it would sell its traditional PNDs along with live traffic and mapping services, but had warned that the nature of the business did not allow up-front revenue recognition, and it would see rewards only in the latter half of 2012.
"We expect the impact of deferring Lifetime maps revenue over three years should be relatively neutral to 2012 EPS (earnings per share) and be a tailwind in 2013," Wedbush said in a note dated February 17.
Revenue at the outdoor/fitness segment increased 35 percent to $121 million. The automotive/mobile segment revenue increased 4 percent to $579 million, compared with a 31 percent decline a year ago.
Fourth-quarter net income at the Switzerland-based GPS device maker rose to $165.5 million, or 85 cents a share, from $132.9 million, or 68 cents a share, a year ago.
Excluding items, the company earned 96 cents a share, while revenue rose 9 percent to $910 million.
Analysts had expected earnings of 66 cents a share, before one-time items, on revenue of $769.9 million.
Shares of the company closed at $44.69 Tuesday on the Nasdaq, after hitting $45.62 -- their highest in roughly three and a half years.
(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)