Johnson Controls has posted record operating earnings per share for the fiscal 2008 first quarter up 39% year on year to $US0.39.

The vehicle interiors and battery specialist also reiterated its October earnings guidance of 18% year-over-year growth.

Sales for the quarter ended 31 December rose 16% to a record $9.5bn from $8.2bn last year, reflecting growth in all three business segments.

Segment income was $374m, up 25% from $300m in the 2007 quarter, as a result of the higher volume and margin expansion. Income from continuing operations was $235m, 40% higher than the prior year's $168m due to the higher segment income and a lower effective tax rate.

Power solutions (largely automotive battery) sales were up 55% to $1.7bn from $1.1bn due mostly to higher prices resulting from the pass-through of increased lead costs, as well as increased unit shipments.

But segment income decreased 6% to $133m from $142m in the 2007 quarter, which included a one-time benefit of $11m.  Income in the 2008 quarter was impacted by additional investments in the company's hybrid vehicle battery capabilities.  Johnson Controls expects to launch production of the industry's first lithium-ion battery systems later in the year.

'Automotive experience' (interior and cockpit) sales for the first quarter of 2008 totalled $4.6bn, up 9% from $4.2bn.  Revenues in Europe increased 14% while North American sales were 5% higher.

Industry light vehicle production in western Europe and North America was approximately 5% and 1% higher, respectively, year on year.

Unconsolidated sales in China increased over 40% reflecting the strong vehicle production environment and new business.

Segment income more than doubled to $78m versus $35m for the prior year quarter.

In North America, income increased to $10m from a loss of $52m a year ago due to operational efficiencies and improved pricing.

For full-year fiscal 2008 the company continued to forecast revenues increasing 10% to about $38bn with operating earnings per share from continuing operations increasing approximately 18% to $2.45 -- $2.50.

Chairman and chief executive officer Stephen Roell said: "Our exposure to global markets and focus on cost and quality improvements continue to positively impact our performance. We believe we are on track to achieve another year of strong sales and earnings growth."