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New technology launches drive Laird recovery

By Abhirup Roy

(Reuters) - Electronic-components maker Laird Plc reported a 6 percent rise in third-quarter revenue as it enjoyed increased business from customers launching new gaming consoles and smartphones.

Laird shares rose as much as 8.5 percent, making the stock one of the top gainers on the FTSE 250 mid-cap index, as the rise in orders confirmed that the company was recovering from a slide earlier in the year.

Laird, which makes electromagnetic shielding and heat control devices for customers including Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, said its expectations for the full year remain unchanged.

"The volumes we need to achieve our numbers are well within the kind of cone of outcome," Chief Executive David Lockwood told Reuters. "We don't need anything outlandish to happen in order to achieve our full year."

Revenue in the quarter rose to 141 million pounds ($228 million) from 131 million pounds a year earlier.

Revenue in the core performance materials division, which makes devices for smartphones and tablets, rose 10.7 percent to 93 million pounds.

Revenue at its wireless systems business, which makes antennas and remote control systems, dipped 2 percent to 48 million pounds.

In August, the company reported a 37 percent fall in first-half profit because of reduced demand from its largest customer.

Laird does not reveal who that customer is but analysts say it is Apple, for which the UK company mostly supplies parts for iPhones and iPads.

"They supply a limited amount to Samsung. Apple is by far their biggest customer. They are trying to gain share at Samsung either organically or inorganically since they are underexposed to Samsung," Liberum analyst Eoin Lambe said.

Apple, which launched new iPads on Tuesday, has been under pressure from rival smartphone makers over the past year, and that has flowed onto its component makers, including Laird.

Lambe said the strengthening business in the third quarter set Laird up well for a strong finish to the year.

Laird, which also makes smart chips for GPS and radio systems in cars, said the jump in revenue was also helped by increased sales to the automotive market in its electromagnetic interference (EMI) business.

Laird does not say which gaming console it supplies parts for but Microsoft Corp's Xbox One is set to go on sale next month.

The company's shares touched a high of 244.9 pence on the London Stock Exchange before easing back to 242.02 pence by lunchtime.

(Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore; Editing by Akshay Lodaya and Rodney Joyce)

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