American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings on Thursday reported record profits for full year 2002 of $US176.1 million, an increase of over 53% compared to the $114.9 million reported for 2001.

Excluding a $5.5 million gain, net of tax and other related costs, due to insurance proceeds from a fire at AAM's forge operations in Detroit, fourth quarter earnings per share were 89 cents, an increase of 44% compared with the same period in 2001.

Excluding the forge fire gain, full year 2002 earnings per share were $3.28, an increase of 39% compared with full year 2001.

For the fourth quarter of 2002, sales were an all-time quarterly record of $911.0 million, up 15% on the $791.6 million in the fourth quarter of 2001. Sales to non-GM customers were up 68% in the fourth quarter and represented 18% of total sales in the quarter compared with 12% in the fourth quarter of 2001.

AAM's record sales for the full year 2002 were $3.5 billion, up 12% on the $3.1 billion in 2001. North American vehicle builds increased 6% during the year.

AAM sales in the quarter and the year were positively impacted by increased General Motors light truck production and the successful AAM launches of both the new heavy- duty Dodge Ram and Hummer H2 programmes.

Sales to non-GM customers were up 23% for the year and represented 14% of total sales in 2002 versus 13% in the prior year. Additionally, a 2.2% increase in AAM content per light truck to more than $1,140 contributed to the increase in sales year over year.

For the fourth quarter 2002, operating income was $83.0 million, or 9.1% of sales, compared with $62.9 million, or 8.0% of sales for the fourth quarter of 2001. For the full year 2002, operating income was $311.2 million, or 8.9% of sales, as compared to $241.3 million or 7.8% of sales for the prior year.