UPDATE 2-Autoliv ups outlook on Asia, North America boost

* Autoliv sees Q1 sales up about 85 pct vs pvs about 70 pct

* Sees op margin of at least 11 percent vs pvs about 8.5 pct

* Says upgrade due to stronger sales in Asia, North America

* Autoliv shares rise 7 pct

(Adds analyst, CEO comment, share price, background)

By Niklas Pollard and Victoria Klesty

STOCKHOLM, March 22 (BestGrowthStock) – Autoliv (ALIVsdb.ST: )
(ALV.N: ), the world’s top maker of airbags and seatbelts, hiked
its outlook for first-quarter sales and profit on the back of
strength in Asia and North America, sending its shares up.

The Swedish company said in a statement it expected net
sales in the first quarter to rise about 85 percent from a
dismal year-ago period, while its operating margin would climb
to “at least” 11 percent.

“The main reason for our revised guidance is better than
expected sales, primarily in North America and Asia due to
higher light vehicle production accompanied by a favorable mix
and market share gains,” Chief Executive Jan Carlson said.
In its previous outlook, issued in connection with its
fourth-quarter report in late January, the group saw sales
rising 70 percent in January through March while its operating
margin was seen rising to about 8.5 percent. [ID:nLDE60S14Y]

At 0935 GMT, shares in the company, which raced to slash
costs as the global financial crisis sent auto sales tumbling,
were up 6.9 percent to 377 crowns compared to a 0.55 percent
fall in the Stockholm bourse’s blue chip index (.OMXS30: ).

“Things are moving along very strongly and are likely to
continue doing so. The company is doing well and the entire auto
industry is in the midst of a powerful recovery now,” Evli
analyst Michael Andersson said.

“And the figures that have been coming in from China and the
United States have pointed to just this.”

RECOVERY

Auto sales across the world tumbled in the wake of the
global financial crisis in late 2008 but picked up in recent
quarters, partly as a result of government incentive schemes to
spur purchases of new vehicles.

With economies now on the mend, many of these incentive
schemes are in the process of being rolled back, raising some
concerns about sales in the months ahead, not least in Europe,
Autoliv’s biggest market, although sales have so far held up.
[ID:nLDE62A1SR]

In North America, total sales of the top 20 vehicles rose
16.7 percent in the year through February, though the massive
recalls over safety issues rocking Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: )
dented sales last month. [ID:nN02181875] [ID:nN02163434]

Asia has eased out of the downturn faster than economies on
either side of the Atlantic and passenger car sales in China,
the world’s largest auto market, surged 55.3 percent in February
after growth of 115 percent in January. [ID:nTST000018]

“The platforms that are important for us are selling better,
such as the Ford F150 as well as French brands, both in North
America and Europe,” Carlson told Reuters, and pointed to more
upbeat outlooks from auto industry forecasters.

“If you take the first quarter one now believes auto
production will be 16.2 million cars and when we first issued
our guidance it stood at 15.6 (million). So it’s up quite a bit.
It’s a combination of higher production and better mix for us.”

Stock Market

(Additional reporting by Johannes Hellstrom)
(Reporting by Niklas Pollard; editing by Simon Jessop, Mike
Nesbit)

UPDATE 2-Autoliv ups outlook on Asia, North America boost