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Laird revenue slips as demand from 'largest customer' drops

By Abhirup Roy

(Reuters) - Electronic-components maker Laird Plc said revenue from its largest customer -- widely assumed to be Apple Inc -- fell 17 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, contributing to a 2 percent fall in overall revenue.

Laird, which makes electromagnetic shielding and heat control components for wireless devices, said it expected another quarter of declining revenue before growth resumes in the second half of the year as customers and the company itself launch new products. It maintained its full-year forecast.

Total revenue fell to 119 million pounds ($184.59 million) for the quarter ended March 31 from 122 million pounds a year earlier, the company said in an interim management statement.

A company representative declined to identify the largest customer, but analysts said Laird has confirmed in the past that it is Apple and that they assumed the company was referring to the iPhone and iPad maker in its statement on Friday.

"I think it's become clear that there had been a overbuild through Q4 by the said largest customer and I think therefore as we got into Q1 the general weakness was exacerbated by destocking cycle," Peel Hunt analyst Dominic Convey said.

Convey also noted that lower-cost smartphone makers were taking market share from Apple.

Laird also supplies components to Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Revenue fell marginally in both the core performance materials division, which makes devices for smartphones and tablets, and the wireless systems business.

The materials division accounted for 73 million pounds of revenue while the wireless systems business contributed 47 million pounds.

The wireless business has been affected by a slowdown in wireless spending and lower sales to the public safety market, Laird said.

Brokerage Investec put its forecasts, target price and recommendation under review following the results and said it initially expected to trim its forecasts by 2-3 percent.

Investec has "hold" recommendation on the stock, with a target price of 240 pence. Laird's shares were down 3.3 percent at 209.7 pence on the London Stock Exchange at 7:35 a.m. ET.

The company, which also makes smart chips for GPS and radio systems in cars, reported a 17 percent rise in full-year profit in March, citing growing demand in the smart-device market.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)

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