Zipcar Soars After Profit Topped Analysts’ Estimates

Zipcar Inc. (ZIP), the company that rents cars by the hour or day, rose as much as 30 percent after reporting a third-quarter profit that topped analysts’ estimates and raising the lower end of its annual profit forecast.

Zipcar rose 16 percent to $7 at the close in New York after reaching $7.84. The gain was the biggest since April 14, 2011, its first day of trading. The shares had declined 55 percent this year through yesterday. New referral and trial programs helped membership grow by 18 percent to about 767,500 in the third quarter, Zipcar said in a statement after the markets closed yesterday.

Net income soared more than sixfold to $4.32 million, or 10 cents a share in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $651,000, or 2 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts predicted profit of 7 cents, the average of six estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Zipcar raised the low end of its full-year forecast.

“We are on track to deliver 2012 as Zipcar’s first full year of profitability on a U.S. GAAP basis,” Scott Griffith, chief executive officer of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company said in the statement. “This is an exciting milestone for our company.”

Zipcar said today it will earn $1 million to $4 million this year, up from break-even to $4 million given in August. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey estimate profit of $1.54 million for the year. Zipcar earned $850,000 through three quarters.

Third-quarter sales rose 15 percent to $78.2 million, topping the $75.7 million average of eight analyst estimates in a Bloomberg survey. Sales this year will rise to $275 million to $279 million, compared with an August forecast of as much as $278 million, Zipcar said. Analysts predicted $276 million, the average of nine estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Clothier in Southfield, Michigan at mclothier@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net

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