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STOCKHOLM, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Autoliv, the world's biggest maker of car safety equipment like seatbelts and airbags, said it expected a sharp sales fall in the first quarter of 2013 after reporting a smaller than expected drop in fourth quarter earnings.
Pretax profit for the fourth quarter fell of 2012 to $170 million from $211 million in the same period of 2011, ahead of the average forecast in a Reuters poll of $157 million.
It said in a statement that light vehicle production was expected to decline sharply in the first quater of 2013 in the western European market to levels not seen since the financial crisis in 2008-2009.
"As a result, Autoliv's organic sales are expected to decline by 4 percent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same quarter of 2012," it added.