Canada's Magna trims sales forecast in trade war hit

(Reuters) - Canada's Magna International Inc MG.TO trimmed its sales forecast for the second time this year, as weak global demand and the impact of U.S.-China trade tensions pushed down vehicle production in North America and Europe.

The roughly $200 million cut was not as bad as feared and the company's profit beat analysts' consensus forecasts, sending its U.S.-listed shares MGA up 4% in trading before the bell in New York.

But the numbers were another sign of the pain the North American automotive industry is beginning to face from a series of major political shocks to its supply chains and cost base.

Automakers have warned that tariffs on metals and other items resulting from President Donald Trump’s trade war with China will add billions of dollars in costs to vehicle production and assembly.

The European auto sector has also been struggling with worsening consumer sentiment as well as concerns over the potential fallout for demand and manufacturing of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Magna on Thursday said it now expects total sales of $38.9 billion to $41.1 billion, compared with its previous estimate of $39.1 billion to $41.3 billion.

“Given ... expectations by many for a guidance cut (similar to other suppliers during earnings season), we believe the bar was likely solidly cleared,” Credit Suisse analysts said.

The company had previously cut its forecast in May, citing higher-than-expected costs in certain advanced driver assistance systems programs, lower anticipated sales from a transmission joint venture in China and a decline in vehicle production.

Magna - which assembles cars for BMW BMWG.DE, Daimler DAIGn.DE and Jaguar Land Rover - also cut its forecast for light vehicle production volume in North America to 16.6 million from 16.7 million. For Europe, it was trimmed to 21.4 million from 21.5 million.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.59 per share, while analyst were expecting $1.53, according to IBES Refintiv data.

Brokerage TD Securities attributed the beat at the company’s complete vehicles unit, which assembles and manufactures cars, to some one-off benefits.

Analysts at Credit Suisse also flagged a beat at the company’s power and vision segment, that makes mirrors and lights, despite deteriorating conditions in China.

Total sales fell 1.5% to $10.13 billion in the latest quarter, with global light vehicle production down 6%.

Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Anil D’Silva