Thomas & Betts ( TNB) a maker of electrical equipment, reported a 44% rise in profits for the second quarter, helped by strong sales and better margins.

The company earned $41 million, or 66 cents a share, compared with $28.39 million, or 47 cents a share, a year earlier. Analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call were expecting earnings of 66 cents a share.

Revenue in the second quarter grew 11.9% from a year ago to $467.88 million, reflecting higher sales volume and price increases, which offset higher material and energy costs and also favorable foreign currency exchange rates which benefited sales by about $6 million. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call were estimating revenue of $458.17 million.

The company expects to earn $2.65 a share to $2.70 a share for the full year 2006 as against analysts who expect $2.64 a share.

Second quarter gross margin rose 160 basis points to 30.3%, compared with the corresponding quarter a year ago owing to higher sales volumes and improved factory efficiency. Operating margin for the second quarter rose 170 basis point to 12.8%.

Electrical segment sales which is the company's major contributer rose 12.1% to $383.27 million in the second quarter, compared to the second quarter 2005 led by improved sales volume and higher selling prices to offset higher material and energy costs.

"We are very pleased with our overall second quarter results which reflect the underlying strength of our key markets," the Memphis, Tenn.-based company said. "In our core electrical business, we continue to execute as planned and leverage continuing strong demand for construction, industrial and utility products into double-digit sales and earnings growth."
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