(Adds analyst comments, details)
July 24 (Reuters) - Electronics products distributor Electrocomponents Plc reported a bigger-than-expected decline in gross margins, sending its shares down as much as 6.4 percent and making them one of the top percentage losers on the London Stock Exchange.
The company, whose products range from cellphone accessories to thermometers, said gross margins in the first quarter fell 80 basis points (bp), hurt by a stronger pound and increased discounting in the UK and the Asia Pacific region.
“The group has guided to a 200bp medium-term decline (in gross margin) but the scale of the Q1 deterioration is surprising,” Jefferies analyst Kean Marden said in a note.
The company, in its interim management statement on Thursday, did not report a gross margin figure for the first quarter. The company’s annual report, released in May showed a 2014 gross margin of 45.9 percent.
UBS analysts also noted the company’s estimate of a 4 million pound ($6.8 million) impact from the strong pound on full-year headline pretax profit.
The analysts cut their 2015 adjusted pretax profit forecast to 92 million pounds from 104 million pounds.
The company, which also makes the credit-card sized minicomputer Raspberry Pi, gets about 70 percent of its total revenue from markets outside the UK.
Underlying sales from its international business rose about 5 percent in the quarter. UK sales declined 2 percent.
The increase in underlying sales, adjusted for changes in foreign exchange rates and one less trading day, was driven by an 8 percent increase in sales in North America and the Asia Pacific region. ID:nRSX1665Na]
Shares in the company, whose brands include RS Components and Allied Electronics, were down 6.3 percent at 242.1 pence at 0900 GMT on Thursday after hitting 241.7 pence, the lowest in just over a year.
$1 = 0.5878 British pounds $1 = 0.5879 British Pounds Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain and Abhiram Nandakumar; Editing by Ted Kerr