Johnson Electric, the world's second-largest micromotors manufacturer, saw earnings jump 28.9 per cent last year on the back of increased demand from the consumer electronics sector. Profit attributable to shareholders was a record HK$1.05 billion for the year to March 31, in line with market expectations and up from HK$818.78 million a year earlier. The company yesterday announced a four-for-one stock split. Johnson Electric is the third-best performer on the Hang Seng Index so far this year, having risen 27.76 per cent, with the shares more than doubling in the past year. The shares fell 25 HK cents yesterday to close at HK$63.75. Group sales jumped 85.08 per cent last year to HK$5.27 billion, due largely to the first-time contribution from its Electric Motor Systems (EMS) division in the United States, which was acquired from Lear Corp in June last year. The nine-month contribution from EMS - now Johnson Electric Automotive - was HK$1.96 billion. Excluding EMS, sales increased 16 per cent to HK$3.3 billion. Earnings per share rose to HK$1.15 from 89.1 HK cents. Chairman and chief executive Patrick Wang Shui-chung said the group's strong growth had been driven largely by demand for its core micromotor products. For the first time in five years, all of Johnson Electric's micromotor divisions had recorded positive sales growth, Mr Wang said. Sales for the power tools division rose 33 per cent due to market share gains and strong underlying demand for motors used in major applications, namely drills, rotary sanders and electric screwdrivers, the company said. Car component sales rose 12 per cent by volume but only 6 per cent by value due to the weakness of the euro. The group's home appliances, business equipment/multimedia and personal care division all registered double-digit sales increases. The company - which employs more than 23,000 people in 14 countries - said Hong Kong and the mainland as well as Asia-Pacific were its best-performing markets as it continued to benefit from the long-term trend of multinationals outsourcing, and moving manufacturing activities to the region. Vijay Harjani, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston, forecast 30 per cent earnings growth for the next two to three years, due to the EMS contribution and ventures with Japanese electric motor maker Nidec. Last month, Johnson Electric said it would establish two ventures with Nidec to make micromotors for audiovisual and computer equipment. 'The DVD [digital video disc] market is growing at 45 per cent per annum and it is a perfect time to enter,' Mr Harjani said. The company had also benefited from the high cost of construction and repair labour in the United States, which had boosted the do-it-yourself market and demand for power tools had increased, he said. The board recommended a final dividend of 28.5 HK cents, compared with 25 HK cents a year ago. The stock split will be effective from August 14.