May 1, 2008 / 3:47 PM / 9 years ago

Magna shares rise as profit beats estimates

TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of Magna International Inc MGa.TO (MGA.N) climbed 7.4 percent on Thursday after the autoparts maker’s first-quarter profit beat market expectations and it boosted its 2008 sales outlook.

Shares of the company were up C$5.46 at C$79.71 on the Toronto Stock Exchange and ahead $3.37 at $78.00 in New York.

Magna said it earned $207 million, or $1.78 a share, on revenue of $6.62 billion in the three months ended March 31.

That was down from $218 million, or $1.96 a share, on revenue of $6.42 billion a year earlier, but the latest results topped analyst forecasts of $1.57 a share and revenue of $6.35 billion, according to Reuters Estimates.

“This higher sales level was achieved as a result of increases in European and rest-of-world production sales, offset in part by reductions in North American production sales, complete vehicle assembly sales, and tooling, engineering and other sales,” Magna said in a release.

The Aurora, Ontario-based company said it sees 2008 consolidated sales in a range between $25.5 billion and $26.8 billion, based on full-year 2008 light vehicle production volumes of 14.2 million units in North America and 15.6 million in Europe.

That is up from its earlier estimate of full-year sales of $24.9 billion to $26.2 billion, based on full year 2008 light vehicle production of 14.4 million units in North America and 15.6 million in Europe.

The forecast boosted the outlook for average dollar content per vehicle in Europe in 2008 to between $485 and $510, from a previous estimate of between $450 and $475.

The outlook for North American average dollar content per vehicle was unchanged at between $845 and $875.

Complete vehicle assembly sales are seen between $3.9 billion and $4.2 billion, up from $3.6 billion to $3.9 billion.

STRONACH‘S GREEN DREAM

Speaking at Magna’s annual meeting, founder and Chairman Frank Stronach took the opportunity to plug the company’s plans to build a four-seat electric car.

“We have allocated a sizable budget and we would like to bring a car to the market within a year and a half that you can plug in and drive maybe 120 kilometers (75 miles),” he said.

“That is a very very top priority and to me it’s always been amazing when we add all the gasoline in the world -- from Rio de Janeiro, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Rome -- to me it’s like the Hudson River flowing down every day and you don’t have to be a great scientist to know that that will end sooner than later.”

Stronach said Magna will not compete against customers it currently supplies with parts, and that it would like to partner with one of them on the venture.

($1=$1.02 Canadian)

Additional reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Rob Wilson

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