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March 22, 2010

SWEDEN: Autoliv upbeat thanks to surge in Asia and US

Sweden's Autoliv has increased its outlook for first-quarter sales and profit thanks to stronger performances in Asia and North America. The world's leading airbag and seatbelt manufacturer said it expects net sales in the first quarter to rise about 85% from the same period last year, instead of a previous forecast of 70%, and operating margin to climb to "at least" 11% rather than the 8.5% predicted earlier.

Sweden’s Autoliv has increased its outlook for first-quarter sales and profit thanks to stronger performances in Asia and North America. The world’s leading airbag and seatbelt manufacturer said it expects net sales in the first quarter to rise about 85% from the same period last year, instead of a previous forecast of 70%, and operating margin to climb to “at least” 11% rather than the 8.5% predicted earlier.

“The main reason for our revised guidance is better than expected sales, primarily in North America and Asia due to higher light vehicle production accompanied by a favourable mix and market share gains,” CEO Jan Carlson said.

Analysts suggested that Autoliv was benefiting from what one called “a powerful recovery” in the auto industry.

In North America, sales of the top 20 vehicles rose 16.7% in the year throughout February; Asia had come out of the downturn faster than other major economies as passenger car sales in China, the world’s largest auto market, surged 55.3% in February after growth of 115% in January.

“The platforms that are important for us are selling better, such as the Ford F150 as well as French brands, both in North America and Europe,” Carlson told Reuters , as he pointed to more upbeat outlooks from auto industry forecasters.

“If you take the first quarter one now believes auto production will be 16.2m cars and when we first issued our guidance it stood at 15.6 (m). So it’s up quite a bit. It’s a combination of higher production and better mix for us.”

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