April 25, 2014 / 10:33 AM / in 4 years

UPDATE 1-Autoliv

* Q1 op income $192 mln vs forecast $182 mln

* Organic sales grow 8 pct in Q1

* Sees 5 pct sales growth, flat margin, in Q2 (Adds detail, background)

STOCKHOLM, April 25 (Reuters) - Auto safety gear maker Autoliv forecast slower sales growth and a flat operating margin in the second quarter after brisk vehicle production lifted its first-quarter earnings above expectations.

Strong growth in global car production boosted sales at Autoliv last year and the Swedish supplier said better than expected light vehicle production in regions such as Western Europe helped drive volumes also in the first quarter.

Autoliv, the world’s biggest maker of safety gear such as seat belts and airbags, said quarterly operating earnings rose to $192 million. The mean forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts was for flat year-on-year earnings of $182 million.

The company said it expected vehicle production to rise close to 10 percent in China, the world’s biggest car market, this year while a sharp slowdown in output in Brazil evident in recent months would be a headwind.

Autoliv said it expected organic sales, which strip out the effects of currency swings and acquisitions, to grow about 5 percent while its operating margin remained steady around 9 percent both in the second quarter and for the full year.

The indication for the second quarter represented a slowdown from the first three months when like-for-like sales rose 8 percent, a shade better than the company’s own guidance for an expansion of about 7 percent.

“We continue to view 2014 as a transition year with high investments for growth, adjustments of our global footprint and a focus on our operational margin challenges,” the company said. (Reporting by Niklas Pollard and Helena Soderpalm; Editing by Alistair Scrutton)

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