Lear 1Q Profit Jumps, Boosts Outlook

Mostly unaffected by the disaster in Japan, Lear (NYSE:LEA) more than doubled its first-quarter profit with the help of global sales growth and a stock split, leading the company to raise its fiscal view.

The Southfield, Mich.-based company revealed on Friday net income of $156 million, or $1.44 a share, compared with $66.1 million, or 61 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

Excluding special items, the automotive seat maker earned $1.46 a share, ahead of average analyst estimates polled by Thomson Reuters of $1.15.

Revenue for the three-month period was $3.5 billion, up 20% from $2.9 billion a year ago, beating the Street’s view of $3.28 billion. The sales reflect growth across its major markets, partially offset by a 32% decline in Japan due to a disruption in production following the country’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Fueling the results was an 18% gain in its seating segment and a 26% improvement in its electrical power management systems. Seating, its largest business, reached sales of $2.7 billion, assisted by new business and better global production.

“During the quarter, we initiated a cash dividend, authorized a $400 million share repurchase program and completed a stock split, reflecting our confidence in the business and our strong balance sheet,” Lear CEO Bob Rossiter said in a statement. “Despite an uncertain production environment in the near-term related to the disaster in Japan, we believe the industry will continue to grow over the foreseeable future.”

Lear sees fiscal sales in the range of $13 billion to $13.4 billion, with earnings of $4.70 to $5.05 a share. The company said it raised the earnings view to reflect the impact of the two-for-one stock split completed in March.

Analysts are expecting a profit of $4.93 a share on sales of $13.25 billion.

Lear also raised its forecast for restructuring costs by $10 million to the range of $655 million to $695 million, with capital spending up $50 million to $300 million, which the company said reflects an expansion at its vertical integration capabilities in emerging markets.