* Full-year pretax profit rises 8.4 pct to 74.8 mln stg
* Revenue increases 2.6 pct to 968 mln stg
* Asia-Pacific revenue rises 12.4 pct
* Shares rise as much as 4 pct (Adds CEO comments, details; updates share movement)
By Noor Zainab Hussain
March 20 (Reuters) - Premier Farnell Plc, a distributor of electronic devices and components, reported an 8.4 percent rise in full-year pretax profit, helped by higher-than-expected sales in China, India and eastern Europe in the second half of the year.
Shares in the company rose as much as 4 percent in early trading on the London Stock Exchange, making the stock one of the top percentage gainers on the FTSE-250 Midcap Index.
Premier Farnell said sales in emerging markets rose 14.9 percent in the year, topping the company’s target of 10 percent.
“The real stars for us were India and China ... China has now overtaken Australia as the largest market for us in Asia-Pacific,” Chief Executive Laurence Bain told Reuters.
Revenue from the Asia-Pacific region rose 12.4 percent in the year, boosted by a 15 percent jump in the second half.
The region saw demand for products such as semiconductors, passives and connectors from suppliers such as Freescale Semiconductor, Bain said.
Per-day sales in China and India rose 25.7 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively.
Total revenue rose after two straight years of decline.
Premier Farnell, which started out as a radio parts seller in 1939, sells roughly half a million products ranging from semi-conductors and connectors to batteries and CCTV cameras in more than 100 countries.
The company, which conducts 60 percent of its business online, said the current year got off to a positive start despite a severe winter affecting its North America business in February.
Per-day sales in its European business rose 3 percent in the second half and 1.9 percent in the full year as the region recovers from the Eurozone crisis.
Full-year per-day sales in the UK fell 2.5 percent.
Premier Farnell also said on Thursday that it would acquire U.S.-based privately held engineering design services firm Avid Technologies Inc for $13 million.
Bain said the acquisition would help Premier Farnell increase its product offerings in the industrial controls, automation, defence, aerospace and medical sectors.
He said the company would make another acquisition of a similar size this year.
Pretax profit for the year ended Feb. 2 rose to 74.8 million pounds ($124.3 million) from 69 million pounds a year earlier.
Revenue increased 2.6 percent to 968 million pounds ($1.61 billion).
Shares in the company were up 1.2 percent at 222.6 pence at 1141 GMT. ($1 = 0.6014 British Pounds) (Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)