Plexus ( PLXS) offered a weak outlook for the current quarter and lowered its full-year estimates late Wednesday after missing Wall Street's first-quarter revenue forecast.

The Neenah, Wis.-based electronics manufacturing services company earned $15.1 million, or 32 cents a share, for the first quarter, up from $13.8 million, or 31 cents a share, in the same period last year.

Excluding certain items, Plexus earned $15.5 million, or 33 cents a share, compared with $13.8 million, or 31 cents a share, in the year-ago quarter. That hit the target forecast by analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

On the top line, Plexus reported $380.8 million, rising from $328.3 million a year ago but falling short of the $390.4 million expected by analysts.

Investors sent shares spiraling down 18.7%, or $3.97, to $17.25 in recent after-hours trading.

"As we look to Q2, we are experiencing softness with a number of customers across all of our market sectors," Plexus CEO Dean Foate said in a statement.

"Additionally, we continue to have poor visibility into the decision-making process concerning potential follow-on orders for a large defense contract," Foate said.

Plexus anticipates EPS, excluding restructuring charges, in the range of 15 cents to 19 cents.

The consensus had predicted a much more bullish outlook, forecasting 35 cents a share for the second quarter.

The sales forecast was also disappointing at $345 million to $355 million, vs. the $403.1 million expected by analysts.

"We expect revenue growth to resume in the second half of our fiscal year," Foate added. "However, given the outlook for Q2, general ambiguity around longer-term economic conditions, and uncertainty around the defense contract, we feel it is prudent to revise our FY '07 revenue expectations."

The company revised its full fiscal 2007 revenue target to grow between 8% and 12% over fiscal year 2006, which equates to a range of $1.58 billion to $1.64 billion. That's lower than the $1.68 billion estimated by analysts.

Shares of Plexus closed the regular session up 61 cents.

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