Magna International has posted lower third-quarter profits, blaming lower North American vehicle production and charges stemming from the spin-off of a subsidiary, Reuters reported.

The Aurora, Ontario-based company reportedly said net earnings fell to $US48 million, or 44 cents a diluted share, from $132 million, or $1.40 a diluted share, a year earlier, and took a one-time charge of $74 million from spinning off a subsidiary in September.

Net income from operations for the quarter rose to $122 million or $1.22 a share from $117 million or $1.24 in the same period last year while sales rose to $3.55 billion from $2.96 billion, boosted by an increase in content per vehicle, Reuters said.

In Europe, content per vehicle jumped 42% and in North America it rose 22% but Magna told Reuters North American vehicle production fell about 5% during the quarter while European vehicle output rose 2%.

According to Reuters, Magna expects dollar content per vehicle for the fourth quarter to range from $560 to $575 in North America and from $390 to $410 in Europe and expects fourth-quarter automotive sales of between $4 billion and $4.2 billion with diluted earnings per share from operations in a range of $1.50 to $1.70.

For the full year, Magna expects average dollar content per vehicle to range between $515 and $520 in North America and between $320 and $325 in Europe and has forecast automotive sales in the range of $14.6 billion to $14.9 billion, with diluted earnings per share from operations of $6.12 to $6.32, Reuters said.

Magna forecasts 2003 vehicle production volumes of about 15.9 million units in North America and 16 million units in Europe, the report added.