STOCKHOLM — Swedish supplier Autoliv on Tuesday reported a 34 percent jump in fourth-quarter operating profit, boosted by a recovery in vehicle production following lockdowns to fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Autoliv, the world’s largest producer of airbags and seatbelts, said it expects around 20 percent organic sales growth and an adjusted operating margin of about 10 percent in 2021.
“Although the pandemic is not yet behind us, I am confident that our performance in the second half of the year shows that we have built a solid platform to move towards our mid-term targets,” CEO Mikael Bratt said in a statement.
Autoliv reported a fourth-quarter operating profit of $307 million compared with $229 million in the year-ago quarter and a mean forecast of $283 million based on a poll of analysts published by the company.
On an adjusted basis, operating earnings were $311 million, up from $242 million a year earlier, the company said. Quarterly net sales rose 15 percent to $2.5 billion.
The company also raised its mid-term growth outlook, saying it now expects to outgrow global light vehicle production by 4-5 percent, versus a previous forecast of 3-4 percent, and by mid-single digits in 2021.
It said a global semiconductor shortage due to the pandemic had not directly affected the company, but could have a negative impact on vehicle production in the first half of 2021.
“We are following that very closely. It is of course another factor of uncertainty,” Bratt told Reuters.
The auto industry was thrown into turmoil last spring when the spread of COVID-19 and related lockdowns in many countries forced a temporary stop to car production across large parts of the globe.
Autoliv, which reported a loss in the second quarter of 2020 despite deep spending cuts, has along with the rest of the industry seen a gradual recovery since then.
For the year, Autoliv’s operating income fell 47 percent to $382 million while net sales dropped 13 percent to $7.4 billion.
Autoliv ranks No. 31 on the Automotive News list of top 100 global suppliers, with 2019 sales to automakers of $8.54 billion.
Automotive News contributed to this report.