By Ted Nesi
PBN Web Editor
ATTLEBORO – Sensata Technologies B.V., the former Texas Instruments sensors-and-controls division spun off four years ago, swung to a profit in the fourth quarter as it prepares for an initial public stock offering.
Sensata posted a profit of $14.15 million in the three months ended Dec. 31, compared with a net loss of $52.2 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 26 percent to $338.09 million.
The growth in fourth-quarter sales “is encouraging, and the current environment is a lot more positive than it was one year ago,” Sensata Chairman and Chief Executive Tom Wroe said in a statement. “The growth in our business is coming from end-market growth, emerging market opportunities and application content growth, with recent wins in all of these categories.”
Wroe added that the spike in fourth-quarter sales was likely caused by inventory restocking, and said he expects to see first-quarter revenue “back on a more normal seasonal quarter-over-quarter growth basis.”
After months of cost cutting, including layoffs, Sensata’s expenses rose 1.6 percent to $294.54 million in the fourth quarter from a year earlier. Research and development spending dropped 68 percent to $4.1 million.
Sensata’s also narrowed its full-year loss thanks to its heavy cost-cutting. The company reported a net loss of $26.99 million in 2009, compared with a loss of $134.48 million in 2008. Annual sales fell 20 percent to $1.13 billion.
Sensata also said it finished the year with $148.1 million in cash on hand, up from $77.7 million at the end of 2008. The company had $2.3 billion in total debt as of Dec. 31.
“We continue to focus on our margins and our balance sheet management,” Chief Financial Officer Jeff Cote said.
Sensata was part of Texas Instruments from 1959 until 2006, when it was taken private and renamed by a group led by private-equity firm Bain Capital LLC. (Sensata is Latin for “those gifted with sense.”)
The company has not posted an annual profit since Bain took it over, although its 2009 loss was the smallest so far. It leases a 433,000-square-foot facility in Attleboro as its headquarters but is registered as a Dutch company.
In November, Sensata disclosed in a Securities & Exchange Commission filing that it planned to sell up to $500 million worth of stock in an initial public offering, with the money going toward debt repayment and general expenses.