Seat belt and airbag maker Autoliv has beaten forecasts for its first quarter earnings and expects second quarter sales and margins to rise year-on-year.

The company posted a record first-quarter pre-tax profit of $US115 million against $104 million forecast by a Reuters poll of 10 analysts and $79.8 million in the same quarter last year.

Profits were boosted by a 4% growth in sales, the effect of a weaker dollar and cost cutting, the news agency report said.

Sales grew 19% to $1.5 billion against a consensus forecast of $1.47 billion and $1.25 billion the first quarter of 2003. The company reportedly said it saw its strong performance continuing into the second quarter.

"Sales for the second quarter are expected to increase in the magnitude of 10%, and the operating margin is expected to slightly exceed the 8.3% margin achieved in the second quarter of last year," the firm said in a statement cited by Reuters.

The news agency noted that Autoliv makes two-thirds of its sales in Europe and Asia, but reports earnings in dollars.

It has been cutting costs, in part by moving production to low-cost countries such as Tunisia and Mexico and by reducing the number of its suppliers, Reuters added.