Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=40833
Story Retrieval Date: 5/23/2013 1:20:11 AM CST
Methode Electronics Inc., a Chicago-based manufacturer of electronic components and other parts, exceeded expectations with net income almost tripling in its fourth fiscal quarter, but the company withdrew its financial forecast for the first quarter of 2008, citing instability in the automotive market.
Methode shares jumped $1.21, or 7.0 percent, to $18.58 at the close of trading Thursday.
Net income for the quarter ended April 28 rose to $12.1 million, or 33 cents per diluted share, from $4.3 million, or 12 cents per diluted share, a year ago. The results far surpassed the average of 15 cents per diluted share estimated by analysts surveyed on Yahoo Finance.
The better-than-expected profits were due to the company’s increased sales in China and its March acquisition of TouchSensor Technologies LLC, the company said. Sales to U.S. domestic automakers, however, fell.
Net sales rose 12.0 percent in the quarter to $130.9 million compared with $116.3 million in the year-ago period.
Methode said it was withdrawing financial guidance for first quarter fiscal 2008, due to instability in the automotive market and the unpredictable sales of Ford and Chrysler. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg LP estimated that earnings will narrow to an average 14 cents per diluted share.
“Our power distribution segment had record sales growth of nearly 40 percent, while the interconnect segment grew 20 percent,” Methode’s President and CEO Donald Duda said in a statement. “In our automotive segment, Europe and Asia sales increased, as anticipated, but were offset by expected reductions in production volumes with Chrysler and Ford in the U.S.”
Despite near-term uncertainty tied to the automotive segment, analysts remain optimistic about the company's long-term prospects.
“Their problem is they have concentration of revenue with Chrysler and Ford,” said Kevin Sarsany of Next Generation Equity Research LLC in Chicago. He said programs Methode began in 2006 will produce results in the next few years, gradually neutralizing losses associated with the domestic automakers.
Although the company withdrew its first-quarter guidance, Methode did predict full fiscal 2008 sales of between $455 million and $475 million, with earnings per share between 65 cents and 75 cents.
These numbers are in line with Sarsany’s estimates of $465 million in sales and earnings of 64 cents per share. But David Leiker of Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. in Milwaukee said Methode’s outlook is too conservative.
“We believe [these numbers] are somewhat disappointing given the relative magnitude of the quarter’s earnings,” Leiker wrote in a report. “We would have expected full-year guidance to be higher.”
For the full 2007 fiscal year, Methode earned $26.1 million, or 71 cents per diluted share, up 5.3 percent from the previous year’s $17.0 million, or 47 cents per diluted share. Net sales rose 6.4 percent to $448.4 million from $421.6 million.