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Tough hands-free driving rules in China help CSR

LONDON (Reuters) - A crackdown on drivers in China holding a mobile phone in one hand and steering with the other has boosted CSR, the British company that makes chips for headsets.

The group, whose technology is also used in headphones and speaker systems, consumer electronics and cars, posted fourth-quarter revenue of $249 million, ahead of an average market consensus, and underlying operating profit of $15.3 million, up from $0.6 million a year ago.

"In China, hands free driving legislation (...) is now being rigorously enforced, which is giving us an opportunity for additional revenue," said chief executive Joep van Beurden.

The stock hit a two-year high on Thursday, as analysts upgraded estimates on CSR's growth in voice and music.

Shares in CSR, which increased its full-year dividend by 15 percent and announced a $50 million buyback, were trading up 13 percent at 436 pence at 0930 GMT, topping the mid-cap index.

Van Beurden said first-quarter revenue would be between $215 million and $235 million, ahead of market expectations.

Analysts at Liberum Capital increased their forecasts for 2013 financial year revenue and earnings per share by 4 percent and 23 percent respectively.

"CSR is seeing continued strong growth in Voice & Music, a temporary boost from the introduction of hands-free legislation in China along with greater resilience in the legacy business," analyst Eoin Lambe said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)

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