UPDATE 1-Premier Farnell says 2013 off to positive start, shares up
* Seen continuous improvement in N.America ops from November: CEO
* 2012 adj pretax profit 75.7 mln stg vs 88.5 mln stg last yr
* Revenue falls 3 pct to 952 mln stg
* Shares rise as much as 7 percent (Adds CEO, analyst comment; updates share movement)
By Brenton Cordeiro
March 21 (Reuters) - British electronic parts distributor Premier Farnell Plc's full-year earnings fell about 15 percent, hurt by weakness at its U.S. operations, but the company's stock rose after it said 2013 had begun on a positive note.
Premier Farnell shares rose nearly 7 percent in early trading on Thursday morning on the London Stock Exchange, making the stock one of the top percentage gainers on the FTSE 250 midcap index.
"Whilst we have limited visibility and current market conditions continue to be uncertain, the new financial year has started positively," Chief Executive Laurence Bain said.
"From November onwards we have seen continuous improvement in North America. We think we will be able to continue to drive the momentum we are seeing at the moment."
Active customer base rose 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter, the company said.
Premier Farnell sells roughly half a million products ranging from batteries and CCTV cameras to semiconductors and capacitors in more than 100 countries, through its websites including Newark, Farnell and element 14.
Adjusted profit before tax in the full year was 75.7 million pounds ($114.6 million), from 88.5 million pounds in the year earlier.
Revenue fell 3 percent to 952 million pounds for the year.
The company's strategy of focussing on emerging markets and customer-centric segments of the electronics market makes sense and should allow Premier Farnell to continue to gain market share, Deutsche Bank analyst Andy Chu said.
"Despite a soft macro-economic backdrop, we expect Premier Farnell to actively manage costs and improve margins over time," Chu added, raising his price target on the company's stock to 250 pence from 200 pence.
Revenue from the company's marketing and distribution (MDD) business in the United States fell 6 percent to 353.8 million pounds, accounting for about 37 percent of the total turnover.
Premier Farnell shares rose to 232.9 pence but lost some of those gains to trade up 3 percent at 225.0 pence at 0957 GMT. ($1 = 0.6608 British pounds) (Reporting by Brenton Cordeiro in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)
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