Battery maker and recycler Exide Technologies reported a net loss of US$5.19m for the first quarter of fiscal 2011/2012, compared with net loss of $9.04m last year.

Net sales were $745m compared with $645m thanks to lead related price increases of $29.5m as well as the positive impact of foreign currency translation of $54.2m.

Operating income increased around 30% to $13.6m compared with US$10.5m primarily due to improved manufacturing efficiencies and the significant reduction in restructuring and impairment costs, said the company.

The transportation segment’s sales increased from $408m to $445m.

Sales for transportation Americas declined from $227m to $218m while transportation Europe and rest of the world sales grew from $181m to $227m.

Operating income was $7.7m in the fiscal 2012 first quarter versus US$19m in the prior year first quarter.

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“As expected, transportation Americas business was negatively impacted by intermittent equipment downtime at our Reading, PA recycling centre during the quarter. This negatively impacted first quarter results by around US$4.9m. In addition, although aggressive pricing was initiated in mid-May, this did not begin to impact results until June. Higher costs, including spent batteries throughout the period hampered profits further,” said Exide Technologies.

Exide Technologies is currently embroiled in problems in New Zealand where it is suing the government over exports of recyclable batteries