Auto chipmaker Melexis raises 2014 sales forecast

BRUSSELS, April 23 Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:13am EDT

BRUSSELS, April 23 (Reuters) - Belgian automotive chip designer Melexis raised its forecast for full-year sales after a solid first quarter built on growing demand for its sensors.

The company expects second-quarter sales to be more than 3 percent higher than in the first quarter and forecast sales growth of between 10 and 15 percent for 2014.

"Customer sentiment is felt to be positive for 2014. Global markets all seem set for growth. Our sound first quarter results and the solid state of our order book comforted us to raise our outlook for the year," Chief Executive Francoise Chombar said in a statement.

Melexis now expects 2014 sales in a range of 303 million-317 million euros, above an average analyst estimate of 302 million euros from a Reuters poll.

The company had earlier forecast sales of 300 million euros ($413.9 million) for 2014, compared with 275 million euros in the previous year.

Sales rose 22 percent in the first three months of 2014 to 75.6 million euros, in line with the company's own expectation and the average forecast in the Reuters poll of four analysts.

Of those sales, 89 percent were to automotive customers.

Melexis maintained its forecast of gross margin above 45 percent and raised its outlook for operating margin to above 23 percent. It had earlier expected operating margin to be close to that level.

($1 = 0.7248 Euros) (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Anupama Dwivedi)

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