* Q1 revenue in sterling rises 1 pct
* Sees improved performance in the second half
* Smartphone, tablet growth boosts demand for components (Adds details, share price)
By Noor Zainab Hussain
May 2 (Reuters) - Laird Plc, which makes components used in smartphones and tablets, reported a marginal rise in first-quarter revenue as it capitalised on growing demand for portable electronic devices.
The company's stock rose as much as 3.5 percent in early trading to rank briefly as the top percentage gainer on the FTSE Midcap Index.
Laird said revenue in sterling for the quarter ended March 31 rose 1 percent to 120 million pounds. In dollar terms, revenue rose to $199 million from $186 million.
The increase was driven by the company's performance materials division, which makes electromagnetic shielding and heat control devices for customers such as Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.
Revenue for the division rose 1 percent to 74 million pounds, helped by rising demand for smartphones and games consoles. The rollout of 4G networks also boosted demand for thermal and electromagnetic interference products.
Apple said it sold 43.7 million iPhones in the quarter ended March, far outpacing the roughly 38 million that Wall Street had predicted.
Laird said revenue in sterling from its wireless systems division, which makes chips for GPS and radio systems in cars, fell 2 percent to 46 million pounds.
The London-based company, which operates in North America, Europe and Asia, said it expects new contracts and product launches to improve its performance in the second half of the year.
Growth in the second half will be aided in part by gains from the company's acquisition last month of a 51 percent stake in South Korean prototyping business Model Solution. The acquisition is expected to add to earnings in the first full year.
Laird's shares were up 2.3 percent at 286.1 pence at 0725 GMT.
(Editing by Robin Paxton)