North America, Europe demand boosts Magna's Q1 profit

TORONTO (Reuters) -- Canadian auto parts maker Magna International said quarterly net profit rose nearly 7 percent as demand improved in North America and Europe, and the company raised its production sales forecast for the regions.

Net income attributable to Magna climbed to $393 million, or $1.76 per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from $369 million, or $1.57 per share, a year earlier. Total sales rose 7 percent to $8.96 billion.

Magna's production sales rose 9 percent to $4.41 billion in North America in the first quarter ended March 31, while European production sales rose 8 percent to $2.63 billion.

Magna, which has 315 plants in 29 countries, has been turning around its operations in Europe to improve efficiency amid a slow recovery in the region.

In a statement today, the company said it expected most of the work to be done this year, with some spillover into 2015.

Production sales in Asia, including China, Japan, Korea, India and Thailand, rose 25 percent to $381 million.

In the rest of the world, made up primarily of the South American market, production sales fell by more than a quarter to $157 million.

Magna has struggled in South America to pass on to customers the rise in costs due to inflation. The company said it was still trying to address commercial challenges and cut costs.

Magna, which also manufactures complete vehicles on a contract basis at its Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria, raised its North American production sales forecast range by about $500 million to $17.1 billion-$17.7 billion.

The company based near Toronto raised its European production sales forecast range by about $300 million to $9.8 billion-$10.2 billion.