Magna International booked a US$317m operating profit, up from $81m a year ago, for the third quarter of 2010. Sales rose from US$4.7bn to $5.9bn.

For the first nine months, operating income surged to $975m from a $386m loss in 2009. Q3 net income was $241m ($51m) and year to date $757m compared with a $354m loss a year ago. Sales were $17.5bn vs $11.9bn.

North American and European average dollar content per vehicle increased by 9% and 8%, respectively, in the third quarter. North American vehicle production increased 28% though European vehicle production dipped 1%.

Complete vehicle assembly sales increased 21% to $519m and complete vehicle assembly volumes increased 41% to approximately 21,000 units.

During the first nine months, vehicle production increased 54% to 9m units in North America and 14% to 9.8m units in Europe.

North American and European average dollar content per vehicle increased 12% and 10% respectively.

Complete vehicle assembly sales increased 24% to $1.6bn as volumes increased 50% to approximately 61,000 units.

CEO Don Walker said: "We continue to generate strong earnings and cash flow, even at historically low levels of vehicle production in our primary markets of North America and Western Europe. The eventual recovery of vehicle production in these markets, combined with our expansion plans in other regions around the world, our strong balance sheet, and our continued efforts to improve underperforming operations all leave us very optimistic about Magna's future operating results."

Magna said on Thursday it plans to buy back up to 3.3%, or 4m of its common shares - adjusted to 8m on a split basis - in a normal course issuer bid.

It also raised its dividend by 20% to 18 cents per share.

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