ST. LOUIS (AP) ¿ LaBarge Inc., which makes electronics for use in military aircraft, said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter profit slumped 43 percent as customers continued to defer purchases of capital equipment.

CEO Craig LaBarge said that while sales and earnings are expected to continue weakening in the current quarter as the "business environment remains challenging," the company believes the fourth and first quarters represents a bottom. He said a sequential improvement in orders should be reflected in second-quarter results.

For the period ended June 28, LaBarge said it earned $2.6 million, or 16 cents per share, compared with $4.6 million, or 28 cents per share, a year earlier. The latest quarter included a charge of 2 cents per share related to an acquisition.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters, who typically exclude special items from their estimates, expected a profit of 19 cents per share.

Quarterly sales fell 17 percent to $64.8 million. Its backlog tumbled 24 percent, to $168 million, compared with $221.3 million a year earlier and $185.6 million at March 29.

Net earnings for the full year came to $10.3 million, or 64 cents per share, compared with a profit of $14.8 million, or 92 cents per share, last fiscal year.

Along with the acquisition charge, the most recent full-year earnings included a charge of 23 cents per share related to a bankruptcy filing at one of its customers. Sales slipped 2 percent to $273.4 million.

The company's primary market is defense, but it also has a natural resources and other businesses.

LaBarge shares rose 8 cents to $10.33 in afternoon trading.
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