NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of Amerigon Inc., which makes climate-controlled seats for the auto industry, jumped Wednesday after the company posted better-than-expected first-quarter sales despite the continued decline in the overall automotive market. In afternoon trading, Amerigon's shares were up 48 cents, or 9.5 percent, to $5.50, down from a session peak of $5.91. Over the past 52 weeks, the company's shares have traded between $2.14 and $14.95. Amerigon posted a first-quarter loss of $936,000, or 4 cents per share, compared with a profit of $1.4 million, or 6 cents per share, for the same quarter last year. Product revenue fell 41 percent to $10.2 million from $17.4 million. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected a loss of 4 cents per share on $8.7 million in sales. Amerigon said its sales were hurt by the continued economic slowdown and global decline in automotive production, as its customers cut back orders and attempted to lower their inventories. Richard W. Hoss of Roth Capital Partners said that while the quarter's sales were slightly better than expected, he was disappointed with the company's gross margin of 23.5 percent, which was up from the fourth quarter of 2008, but still lower than he expected.
Hoss said he expects the company's earnings to continue to be pressured by the continued woes of the automotive industry. "While the company has made strong progress on the penetration of new vehicles year-to-date (five new models announced), we continue to view the massive decline in new auto sales as offsetting any meaningful contribution from new vehicle penetrations," Hoss said. Amerigon said its products remain popular and it expects its revenue to return to normal once economic conditions and automotive production stabilizes. The company said it expects its second-quarter revenue to be "relatively flat" compared with that of the first quarter. Analysts, on average, expect $11.8 million in revenue for the company's second quarter.