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Metron Technology tops third-quarter estimates

Metron Technology slipped past analysts' estimates in its third quarter Monday, raking in $2.6 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $81.1 million.

Ahead of the earnings report, Metron (Nasdaq: MTCH) shares fell 1 1/2, or 7 percent, to 19 1/2.

First Call consensus expected the provider of marketing, sales, service and support solutions to the semiconductor industry.

The $81.1 million in sales marks a 43 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it lost $1.9 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $56.6 million.

"The third quarter was marked by continued strength across all geographies and within both our materials and equipment divisions," said CEO Ed Segal in a prepared release. "We believe that all indications are that the semiconductor industry recovery is sustainable, and we have entered our year-end quarter with solid confidence in our business."

In the quarter, Metron's materials sales jumped 80.2 percent to $44.5 million, up from $24.7 the year-ago and up 18.3 percent from the second quarter. Equipment division sales rose 14.4 percent to $36.5 million, up from $31.9 in the year-ago period.

Gross margins for the equipment division were 17.1 percent compared to 12.7 percent for the same period a year earlier.

Metron shares moved up to a 52-week high of 36 in March after falling to a low of 14 7/8 in December.

All three analysts covering the stock rate it a "buy."

Analysts are expecting a profit of 58 cents a share in the fiscal year.>