* Valeo net down 11 pct despite orders record
* Restates 7 pct medium-term margin goal
* Aims to maintain op profit in 2013 despite tough H1 (Adds CEO comment, details on trends)
By Gilles Guillaume and Laurence Frost
PARIS, Feb 22 (Reuters) - French auto parts maker Valeo said profit dropped 11 percent last year despite record orders for its fuel-saving and safety technologies.
The Paris-based company pledged on Friday to maintain profitability this year despite an expected 4 percent decline in European auto production, after net income fell to 380 million euros ($502 million) in 2012.
Buoyant orders were helped by “the expansion of our business in Asia and emerging countries”, Chief Executive Jacques Aschenbroich said in a statement. “We’re confident in our ability to achieve strong and profitable organic growth.”
Sales rose 8.2 percent to 11.8 billion euros last year on record order intake of 15.8 billion, the company said, reiterating its medium-term goal of exceeding a 7 percent operating margin.
Full-year operating profit rose 3 percent to 725 million euros, for a 6.2 percent margin, a level Valeo said it expects to sustain this year as global auto production edges up a forecast 1 percent.
Profitability is likely to decline in the first half and recover with an expected European market upturn in the second, Valeo said.
The company announced a proposed dividend of 1.50 euros per share, up 7 percent on last year’s payout. ($1 = 0.7563 euros) (Editing by James Regan)