November 5, 2014 / 11:24 AM / in 3 years

UPDATE 2-Magna profit beats estimates on strong North American sales

(Adds details on North American results, context.)

Nov 5 (Reuters) - Canadian auto parts maker and contract vehicle manufacturer Magna International Inc reported a 47 percent jump in third-quarter earnings that beat analyst expectations Wednesday, boosted by strong demand in North America.

Adjusted earnings before interest and taxes in North America, the company’s biggest market, grew to $470 million in the quarter through Sept. 30, from $365 million a year earlier. External production sales were up 10 percent at $4.43 billion.

Magna raised its forecasts slightly for full-year 2014 light vehicle production to 17.0 million units in North America, from 16.9 million forecast previously, and to 20.2 million units in Europe, from 19.8 million.

Automakers reported their strongest U.S. sales for October in more than a decade on Monday, and Canadian sales are on track to set an all-time record in 2014.

Vehicle production in Europe increased 4 percent, but production sales decreased 1 percent to $2.35 billion due to a fall in content on some programs such as the Mini Cooper and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

Magna gave some new details on a Brazilian antitrust investigation it first disclosed in September, saying the probe involved door latches and related products.

It was too early to predict the outcome or duration of the investigation but the process could take several years, Magna said, and any fine could materially hurt its earnings.

The company has 312 manufacturing operations around the world, and more than 130,000 employees. Magna, which counts car makers such as General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG , BMW and Ford Motor Co among its customers, has been pushing to improve efficiency in its European operations.

External production sales rose 13 percent to $406 million in Asia. Magna, which last month said it would open two new plants in India, said the gains came from higher production volumes on some existing and new programs in the region.

The growth in North America and Asia helped total sales increase 5.8 percent to $8.82 billion in the third quarter.

Net income attributable to Magna rose to $470 million, or $2.19 per share, from $319 million, or $1.39 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding restructuring charges, it earned $2.22 per share, above analysts’ estimates for $1.97, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

As of Tuesday’s close at C$110.60, the Aurora, Ontario-based company’s stock has jumped 27 percent so far this year. (Reporting by Allison Martell and Kanika Sikka; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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