TRW Automotive Holdings, a specialist in active and passive safety systems, has reported fourth- quarter 2006 sales up 4.3% to $US3.3bn and Q4 net earnings down to $33m or $0.32 per share, compared to $59m ($0.57 a share) the previous year.

Full-year 2006 sales grew 4% to $13.1bn while net earnings fell to $176m ($1.71 a share) from $204m $1.99 a share) in 2005.

“The reported results exceeded previous full year guidance levels primarily due to a lower level of restructuring expense, a portion of which relates to a change in timing of certain actions, and a favourable net operating outcome,” TRW said in a statement.

Several factors affected the year-to-year fourth quarter comparison, including lower restructuring expenses, a higher effective tax rate in the 2006 period and the non-recurrence of a one-time reduction in litigation reserves of $18m that benefited the 2005 period.

Operating income for fourth-quarter 2006 was $126m compared to $133m in the previous year which included a one-time gain of $18m due to a favourable reduction in litigation reserves.

Operating income for the full year was up 15% or $83m to $636m.

For full-year 2007 sales are expected to be in the range of $13.4 to $13.8bn (including first quarter sales of approximately $3.5bn). Full year net earnings per share are expected to be in the range of $1.85 to $2.15.