* Q1 EPS 23 cents vs Wall St view 21 cents
* Q1 sales almost double to record
* Sees Q2 sales up 55-65 pct from a year ago
* Shares rise 2 percent (Adds details of results, second-quarter outlook, shares)
DETROIT, April 22 (Reuters) - Gentex Corp (GNTX.O) posted a quarterly profit on Thursday, supported by increased vehicle production in North America and robust sales of its mainstay automotive mirrors.
Gentex, which makes auto-dimming rearview mirrors and fire protection products, also forecast its second-quarter sales would be up 55 to 65 percent from a year earlier as auto production volumes continue to improve.
Its 2 percent to $22.69 in early trading.
First-quarter net income was $32.5 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $1.6 million, or 1 cent a share. Sales rose 98 percent to a record $185.8 million.
Analysts on average had expected Zeeland, Michigan-based Gentex to earn 21 cents per share on revenue of $173.6 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company kicked off the first-quarter earnings season for the U.S. auto supply sector. Analysts said Gentex’s forecast-beating results and bullish outlook bode well for other suppliers scheduled to report in coming weeks.
Gentex’s gross profit margin increased to 36.9 percent in the first quarter, up from 23.8 percent a year earlier thanks to the near-doubling of sales.
Gentex Chief Executive Officer Fred Bauer said he expected the second-quarter gross margin to be in the same range as the first quarter.
Sales of auto-dimming mirrors, which account for more than 95 percent of Gentex’s revenue, more than doubled to $181.5 million.
Sales of fire protection products fell 23 percent to $3.8 million due to the weak commercial construction market.
Reporting by Soyoung Kim, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Dave Zimmerman