* Q4 pretax profit $195 mln vs mean market forecast $190 mln
* Chalks up growth in all regions
* Sees flat margin, more moderate growth in 2014
STOCKHOLM, Jan 31 Auto safety equipment maker
Autoliv posted a bigger-than-expected rise
in fourth-quarter earnings and forecast continued sales growth
this year, albeit at a slower pace than in 2013.
An unexpectedly strong upturn in global car production in
2013 continued into the final months of last year, lifting
Autoliv's sales in all regions when excluding the impact of
exchange rate fluctuations. China was particularly strong.
Autoliv, the world's biggest maker of safety gear such as
seat belts and airbags, said fourth-quarter pretax profit rose
to $195 million from a year-ago $170 million. That beat a mean
forecast of $190 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Handelsbanken analyst Hampus Engellau said
stronger-than-expected global car production was the main factor
behind the upbeat results.
"It hung in the balance whether Autoliv had already factored
this into their guidance," he said. "It turned out that Autoliv
had been conservative, so the organic growth came in more than
five percentage points better than they were expecting."
The company, based in Sweden though it reports in dollars,
forecast organic sales would grow about 7 percent in the first
quarter with an adjusted operating margin of about 8 percent,
somewhat lower on both counts than in the final months of 2013.
Autoliv also said it expected organic sales to increase 5
percent this year compared to 7 percent in 2013, while its
adjusted operating margin was seen at around 9 percent versus
9.2 percent last year.
"We will have a year of high investments in order to support
further expansion in the growth markets," Autoliv Chief
Executive Jan Carlson said in a statement.