STRONG sales of the Raspberry Pi mini computer boosted half year sales at Electronics distributor Premier Farnell, but the group said market conditions remain subdued.
Raspberry Pi, which has proved very popular in schools by helping kids to learn the basics of IT in a fun way, reported sales of £15m in the six months to August 4.
Analyst Robin Speakman at Shore Capital said: “Results for the company’s first half period are broadly in-line with our expectations, confirming that a return to growth remains a sluggish process.
“Revenues at £498m were around £6m higher than our forecast, driven by continued growth in Raspberry Pi, which appears a better performance than that seen at rival Electrocomponents where Pi sales stalled somewhat in its first quarter period through to July.”
He added that sales in the UK appear weak, down five per cent year on year.
In Continental Europe sales grew 3.8 per cent with Eastern Europe growing in double digits, which Mr Speakman described as encouraging.
In Asia Pacific sales rose 10 per cent year on year.
In North America sales continued to decline, by 2.4 per cent year on year although they have been more encouraging of late.
“We continue to prefer Premier Farnell over Electrocomponents given our view that the company enjoys both higher operating and financial leverage,” said Mr Speakman.
“We continue to await the upturn in metrics. These still appear elusive and we expect Premier’s share price to consequently continue to drift. We retain a ‘hold’ stance.”
Leeds-based Premier’s CEO Laurence Bain said: “Our core business has delivered a stable performance overall despite the mixed conditions that have impacted some developed markets such as North America and the UK.
“Our customer-centric strategy has attracted more customers to our business and provides the Group with greater opportunity as market conditions improve.
“Progress in the emerging markets, where sales growth outpaced our target, exemplifies this approach.
“Looking ahead to the second half, we continue to have limited forward order visibility and current market conditions remain variable. However, with our proposition benefiting from the first half inventory investments and initiatives taken to optimise business performance, we expect to continue to grow our active customer base, gain market share and drive financial performance.”