Texas Instruments Inc. (TI), the world's No. 1 maker of semiconductors for mobile phones, Monday posted a slight first-quarter loss and said sales were starting to pick up as equipment makers restock TI chips after a year of cutting inventories.

But the Dallas-based company said that on a pro forma basis, it surpassed its goal of break-even earnings per share for the quarter. Texas Instruments reported a profit before one-time items of $24 million, or 1 cent a share, down from $317 million, or 18 cents, a year ago. Revenue tumbled to $1.83 billion from $2.53 billion.

The first-quarter consensus analyst profit forecast was nil, with predictions ranging between a loss of 1 cent and a profit of 2 cents, according to research firm Thomson Financial/First Call. Revenue was pegged at $1.80 billion.

According to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), Texas Instruments posted a loss of $38 million, or 2 cents a share, compared with year-ago net income of $230 million, or 13 cents a share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Texas Instruments, which gets about 80 percent of its revenue from semiconductors, also said it sees second-quarter revenue rising about 10 percent from first-quarter levels, implying a figure of about $2.01 billion.

'TURNED THE CORNER'

"We have turned the corner toward growth," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Tom Engibous in a statement. "TI's shipments, affected by liquidation of excess inventory in 2001, are accelerating as they catch up to the rate of our customers' shipments."

Analysts had forecast second-quarter revenue at $2.192 billion and a per-share profit before one-time items of 3 cents a share, within a range of nil to profit of 6 cents.

Shares of Texas Instruments rose 33 cents to $32.13 on the New York Stock Exchange before the results were released, which came after the close of regular U.S. trading. The stock has risen 15 percent this year, compared with an increase of 9.5 percent in the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Texas Instruments forecast as recently as March that first-quarter results on a pro forma basis would return to "about break-even" and revenue would be about even with the fourth quarter's $1.79 billion, following a year of quarter-over-quarter declines.

The semiconductor industry had its worst year on record in 2001, with worldwide sales falling more than 30 percent from 2000 as an inventory glut, overinvestment in telecommunications infrastructure and weak economies took their toll.

Revenue rose slightly sequentially, by $41 million, and Texas Instruments said its orders grew 20 percent from the first quarter, to $1.91 billion.

Revenue from the company's analog chip business rose 8 percent from the first quarter, paced by shipments into the computing market, while revenue from digital signal processors, or DSP chips, which are used in cell phones, increased 7 percent.

Semiconductor orders increased 18 percent from the first quarter, while orders for analog chips increased more than 30 percent.

"Growth will be driven by improvements in our customers' end-equipment markets," Engibous said. "The key driver for improvement will be a stronger economy, which will lead to more normal levels of global corporate spending."