Continuing its acquisition strategy to expand in several key markets, Littelfuse Inc. recently acquired U.S. Sensor Corp., headquartered in Orange, California. The company is a manufacturer of thermistors and probe assemblies used in temperature sensing applications.
The acquisition is part of the Littelfuse’s new five-year corporate strategy to double its sensor platform by 2021. “This acquisition is a step toward achieving that objective,” said David Kurt, spokesperson for Littelfuse. “Doubling our sensor product platform is one our major growth initiatives, in addition to growing our circuit protection business and accelerating our power control business.”
Some of the biggest opportunities cited for sensors include the internet of things, automotive, and appliances & white goods. Key growth drivers for automotive applications include occupant safety, solar sensing, and position sensing.
Littelfuse entered the sensors business about five years ago with the acquisition of ACCEL AB, based in Sweden, a manufacturer of sensors and switches primarily for the automotive industry. It gave the company an entry into the automotive sensor market.
As of the end of 2016, Littelfuse’s revenue for sensors was $160 million and is the company’s fastest growing platform. The company’s global revenue in 2016 totaled about $1.1 billion, up 22 percent from 2015.
Kurt said the U.S. Sensor acquisition expands the company’s existing sensor portfolio with an array of temperature sensing products used in the most demanding temperature sensing applications that serve key electronics and industrial end markets, including home automation, HVAC and appliances.
For existing customers of U.S. Sensor, they now get access to Littelfuse’s complete portfolio of other circuit protection, power control and sensing technologies in addition to its technical expertise and network of global design and testing labs.
Growth through acquisition
In December 2016, Littelfuse launched its five-year strategy, building on its current goals to “focus on increased organic growth and continued growth through acquisitions.”
The goals set in the new roadmap include double-digit annual sales growth that includes an organic growth rate of five to seven percent, matched with another five to seven percent growth through strategic acquisitions. The three primary focus areas continue to be circuit protection, the company’s core business; power control products, and sensors.
As part of its strategy to grow through acquisition, Littelfuse has made at least one acquisition every year since 2010, beefing up its sensor, circuit protection and power semiconductor portfolios. Prior to 2010, the company acquired 10 companies since 1999.
Littelfuse’s most recent acquisitions include Menber, a specialist in battery switches and trailer connectors for commercial vehicles to expand its commercial vehicle product platform, and the circuit protection business of TE Connectivity, giving the company a bigger share in the resettable circuit protection business as well as an entry into the Japanese market. The company said the TE circuit protection acquisition also filled some gaps in the automotive motor and battery protection markets.
A significant acquisition in 2016 was the purchase of ON Semi’s IGBT business as well as the company’s transient voltage suppression (TVS) diode and switching thyristor product lines. These additions gave Littelfuse a big boost to its power semiconductor portfolio and its presence in the automotive electronics market.