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Metron Technology misses estimates in fourth quarter

Metron Technology missed analysts' estimates by a penny a share in its fourth quarter Thursday, earning $2.8 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $113 million.

First Call Corp. consensus pegged Metron for a profit of 21 cents a share in the quarter.

Ahead of the earnings report, Metron (Nasdaq: MTCH) shares closed up 9/16 to 13 1/8.

The $113 million in sales represents a 77 percent improvement from the year-ago quarter when it earned $100,000, or 1 cent a share, on sales of $64 million.

Metron provides marketing, sales, service and support solutions to the semiconductor industry.

For the fiscal year, Metron pocketed $7.8 million, or 60 cents a share, on sales of $338 million compared to a loss of $4.5 million, or 44 cents a share, on sales of $229 million in fiscal 1999.

"We are very excited about the continued strength in both the equipment and materials divisions during the fourth quarter," said CEO Ed Segal in a prepared release. "We have seen no signs of a slow down in the semiconductor industry to date and believe Metron's core business will continue to grow as this current cycle continues to build momentum."

In the quarter, materials sales jumped to $53 million, up 77 percent from $30 million from the year-ago quarter and up 20 percent from the third quarter. Revenue was higher in all regions, with particularly strong year-over-year growth in Asia.

Equipment sales improved to $60 million, up 76 percent from $34 million in the same period last year.

Last quarter, Metron beat Street estimates when it earned $2.6 million, or 18 cents a share, on sales of $81.1 million.

Its shares soared to a 52-week high of 36 in March before tumbling to a low of 9 in May.

All three analysts following the stock rate it either a "buy" or "strong buy."

First Call Corp. consensus expects it to earn $1.01 a share in fiscal 2001.