* Pretax profit of $193 million vs f‘cast $176 million
* Sees full year sales at top of forecast range
* Sticks to full year margin guidance
STOCKHOLM, July 19 (Reuters) - Autoliv, the world’s biggest maker of car safety equipment, said on Friday it would see sales this year at the top of its forecast range as a recovery in car production boosted demand in the second quarter.
Autoliv, a supplier to all leading global car manufacturers, has been hit by the car crisis in Europe, and has been cutting costs and shifting production to cheaper and faster growing countries.
But car production in Europe - which accounts for more than 30 percent of Autoliv’s sales - grew unexpectedly in the second quarter. Other key markets - the Americas, China and Japan - also performed better than forecasts.
“Autoliv had a solid quarter achieving record sales and a solid operating margin,” the company said in a statement.
“The global vehicle production developed slightly better than anticipated.”
Shares in Autoliv were up 1.6 percent at 561 Swedish crowns at 1037 GMT, outperforming a flat Stockholm blue-chip index.
Autoliv said it expected full year sales growth - stripping out the effects of currencies and acquisitions - of around 4 percent, at the top end of its previously forecast range of 2 to 4 percent.
The company stuck to its forecast of a 2013 operating margin of around 9 percent, excluding costs for antitrust investigations and capacity alignments.
The airbag and seatbelt market reported a pretax profit of $193 million in the second quarter compared to $182 million a year earlier to come in above the mean forecast of $176 million in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Autoliv forecast organic sales growth of close to 6 percent in the third quarter with an operating margin around 8.5 percent.