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American Axle Surges After Profit Beats Estimates: Mover

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. rose the most in 17 months after the maker of axles and crankshafts reported first-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts’ estimates.

The shares rose 7.9 percent to $14.82 at the close in New York, the biggest one-day increase since Nov. 30, 2011. The Detroit-based company’s stock has gained 32 percent this year compared with a 13 percent rise in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.

A rebounding housing market, relatively stable fuel prices and new vehicles such as Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram 1500 and General Motors Co.’s Silverado and Sierra, which the company supplies, are giving American Axle cause for optimism, Chief Financial Officer Michael Simonte said in an interview. Full-size pickup sales have increased 24 percent this year through April, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

“The market is setting up for very strong pickup sales trends,” Simonte said. “We are pleasantly surprised by the strength in the pickup market.”

American Axle, formerly owned by the predecessor of General Motors Co., has been trying to widen its customer base while strengthening its balance sheet. The company reported first-quarter profit of 23 cents a share, excluding debt refinancing and redemption costs compared with the 16-cent average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. During the period, American Axle issued $400 million of 6.25 percent notes due in 2021, according to a statement today.

Net income tumbled 86 percent to $7.3 million, or 10 cents a share, from $51.2 million, or 68 cents, a year earlier, the company said.

First-quarter sales rose less than 1 percent to $755.6 million. Sales to customers other than GM declined to $188.1 million compared with $193.6 million a year earlier.

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