March 7 (Bloomberg) -- Ciena Corp., which makes networking equipment for AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., jumped the most in 18 months and helped push competitors’ stocks higher with a surprise first-quarter profit.
Excluding some items, Ciena posted earnings of 12 cents a share in the period, which ended Jan. 31, according to a statement today. Analysts had estimated a loss of 14 cents a share on average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
While the economy and technology spending have been stable, customers have been favoring newer networking technology over conventional equipment sales, Chief Executive Officer Gary Smith said in an interview.
“This was our best profitability since the downturn,” said Smith. “I think it shows an inflection point in buying trends.”
The company expects positive cash flow in 2013 based on the higher order rate it is seeing, Chief Financial Officer James Moylan said on the call.
Ciena, based in Hanover, Maryland, climbed 17 percent to $17.53 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day gain since Sept. 1, 2011. The stock had dropped 4.8 percent this year through yesterday, compared with an 8.1 percent gain for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
The report helped lift other communications-equipment suppliers. JDS Uniphase Corp. shares rose 7.6 percent to $15.23, and Juniper Networks Inc. gained 5 percent to $21.12.
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