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Nortech Systems Incorporated, a leading provider of engineering and manufacturing solutions for complex electromedical and electromechanical products serving the medical, aerospace & defense and industrial markets, reported net sales of $22.1 million for the quarter ended March 31, 2021, a decline of 19.6% compared to $27.4 for the first quarter of 2020. The decline was primarily due to COVID-related factors including supply chain disruptions and short-term challenges scaling our direct labor workforce. Gross margin for the first quarter of 2021 was 7.1% compared to 11.0% in 2020, a decline of 3.9 percentage points. Lower margin was due to unabsorbed fixed overhead in the Company's global manufacturing network. Net loss for first quarter 2021 was ($1.6) million and ($0.58) per diluted share compared to a net income of $0.1 million and $0.05 per diluted share in first quarter 2020. Adjusted EBITDA was a loss of ($1.5) million in first quarter 2021 compared to net income of $1.0 million in first quarter 2020.
"The first quarter of 2021 was a significant challenge for Nortech, especially in January and February. In response, we took aggressive action to overcome COVID-related obstacles and enable higher production volume. Our manufacturing plants are regaining strength and we're confident we'll see steady improvement throughout the remainder of 2021." stated Jay D. Miller, Chief Executive Officer and President.
Nortech, in partnership with our medical, industrial and defense customers, uses intelligence, innovation, speed and global expertise to provide manufacturing and engineering solutions. This enables our customers to be leaders in digital connectivity and data management to achieve their business goals. Nortech strives to be a premier workplace that fosters valued relationships internally and in our communities.