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Thomas & Betts Beats Estimates

Net income rises 6.6%.

Thomas & Betts


, a maker of electrical equipment, reported a 6.6% rise in profits for the fourth quarter, helped by higher sales volume and operating efficiency improvements.

The company earned $25.8 million, or 42 cents a share, compared with $24.2 million, or 40 cents a share, a year earlier. The latest quarter includes an income tax charge of $16.4 million related to the repatriation of $200 million in foreign earnings.

After excluding the income tax charges, the company earned 69 cents a share. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 54 cents a share.

Revenue in the fourth quarter grew 10.7% from a year ago to $443 million, reflecting higher sales volume and price increases. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were estimating $446.6 million.

On the back of strong demand in industrial, commercial and utility markets, the company expects to earn $2.35 a share to $2.45 a share for the full year 2006. The company's 2006 earnings guidance includes an expense of about 6 cents a share due to the adoption of stock-options related expenses. The Wall Street consensus estimate was for earnings of $2.29 a share.

Fourth quarter gross margin was 30.4%, compared with 28.5% in the corresponding quarter, a year ago. Operating margin for the fourth quarter was 13.4% compared with 10.1% for the fourth quarter of 2004.

"Each of our businesses continued to perform well in the fourth quarter, achieving robust year-over-year sales growth and double-digit segment earnings as a percent of sales," said Dominic J. Pileggi, chairman and chief executive officer. "We successfully offset higher material and energy costs, further improved operating efficiencies and delivered very strong operating cash flow."

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