American Axle & Manufacturing (AAM), a maker of axles, driveshafts and chassis, said on Friday that its quarterly earnings fell in Q1, hurt by a one-time charge for refinancing debt. First-quarter net income declined to $36.5 million, or 66 cents a share, from $54.0 million, or $1.02 a share, a year ago.

Net sales were $952.8 million as compared to the reported $975.3 million in sales from the first quarter of 2003.

AAM said that sales to non-GM customers continue to increase, growing 13% versus last year’s first quarter to $190.8 million in the first quarter of 2004. Sales to non-GM customers now represent 20% of total sales versus 17% in the first quarter of 2003.

AAM said that its sales were positively affected by the continued strong demand for the Chrysler Group’s heavy-duty Dodge Ram. AAM sales were negatively affected by an estimated 5% decrease in General Motors light truck production for the quarter compared to the same period in 2003. The combined effect of these factors resulted in nearly a 2% increase in AAM content per vehicle to $1,182 and growth in AAM’s non-GM business for the first quarter of 2004.

“We had another productive and successful quarter at AAM. Most importantly, we secured a new long-term agreement with the UAW that recognizes the structural changes occurring in the automotive industry and we completed the refinancing of our debt capital structure at attractive investment grade levels,” said American Axle & Manufacturing Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board & CEO Richard E. Dauch. “We are pleased with our solid operating performance in the quarter and encouraged by the progress we made to further diversify our customer base.”