Amerigon Incorporated has reported strong year-over-year improvements in top- and bottom-line performance for its first quarter ended March 31, 2004.


Revenues increased 71% from the prior year period, gross margins improved and the company posted its second consecutive quarterly profit.


President and chief executive officer Daniel Coker said the first quarter results reflect a continuation of the operational strength exhibited in the latter half of 2003 and ongoing demand for the company’s patented climate control seat systems remaining strong.


Revenues for the 2004 first quarter were $9.0 million with net income of $301,000, or $0.02 per basic share and $0.01 per fully diluted share, compared to revenues in last year’s first quarter of $5.2 million with a net loss of $925,000, or a $0.09 loss per share.


Gross margins as a percentage of revenues for this year’s first quarter improved to 23.3%, up from 20.5% for the prior year period. The 2004 first quarter results included approximately $67,000 of development expense for the company’s BSST subsidiary that was not fully reimbursed by BSST customers.


Coker said. “This year’s first quarter shipments of CCS increased by 75% to 140,000 units from 80,000 units in the 2003 first quarter, and at the end of the first quarter of this year we marked a significant milestone with the shipment of our millionth CCS system. Revenues in the 2004 first quarter benefited from higher shipments of our heated and cooled seat systems for four previously announced vehicles that began shipments late in 2003 — the Cadillac XLR, Cadillac Escalade ESV, the Mercury Monterey minivan and the Nissan Cima luxury sedan.”


Coker said that this year’s first quarter revenues reflected increased CCS shipments for the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition, and the availability of CCS as an option for both front and rear seats in the Lexus LS430.


“In addition to our focus on expanding our penetration of the markets in the US and Asia, we are beginning to see progress in our efforts to win vehicle programmes in Europe,” Coker added.


“Based on this year’s first quarter, we remain on track to achieve 25 to 35% revenue growth for 2004 and to achieve our goal of being profitable for the year.”


Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expenses in this year’s first quarter increased 12% to $1.2 million in the first quarter of 2004 compared to the prior year period as the Company added staff to support domestic and international customer service and marketing efforts.


Research and development expenses for the first quarter of 2004 decreased 34% to $622,000 from $945,000 in the prior year period. This decrease was due primarily to lower prototype costs associated with the company’s next generation CCS system, which was launched in the latter part of 2003 and to customer funding received by Amerigon’s subsidiary, BSST, totaling $276,000 during the quarter. This customer funding sustains BSST’s development of advanced thermoelectric technology and reduces significantly the Amerigon financial support required.


The March 31, 2004 balance sheet showed cash and cash equivalents of $2.5 million, total assets of $11.3 million, shareholder equity of $5.0 million and no bank debt.


There are currently 14 popular vehicle lines from five major automotive manufacturers offering CCS, up from 12 vehicle models and four manufacturers in the 2003 first quarter. By the end of this year’s first quarter, Amerigon had shipped one million CCS systems since shipments began in late 1999.