Littelfuse Inc. recorded net earnings of $3.2 million, or 15 cents per share, on sales of $70 million in the first quarter, compared to a net loss of $600,000, or 3 cents per share, on sales of $65.1 million a year ago.
The Des Plaines, Ill., supplier of circuit protection devices attributed the improved financial performance to higher sales in Asia, the July 2002 acquisition of Semitron, and the effects of a weaker dollar, according to Howard Witt, president and chief executive.
Compared to the first quarter of 2002, sales increased in each geographic region, with Asia Pacific up 18% to $22 million, Europe up 9% to $13.3 million, and the Americas up 1% to $34.7 million. Sales also rose across all market segments, with electronic products up 12% to $37.2 million, automotive sales up 2% to $24.6 million, and electrical sales up 6% to $8.2 million.
"We continue to see gradual improvement in gross margins as we execute on our worldwide manufacturing rationalization program," said Phil Franklin, vice president and chief financial officer. "The 33% gross margin for the quarter was the best we have achieved since the second quarter of 2001."