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American Axle Soars as Pickups Help Top Estimates: Mover

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. rose to its highest closing price in more than five years after the maker of axles and crankshafts for pickups reported second-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts’ estimates.

The shares gained 5.8 percent to $20.94 in New York, the biggest one-day increase since June 25 and the highest close since May 2008. The Detroit-based company’s stock has gained 87 percent this year, compared with a 25 percent climb for the Russell 2000 Index.

A rebounding housing market and an aging fleet of existing trucks are fueling demand for new pickups, such as Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram Heavy Duty and General Motors Co.’s Silverado and Sierra, for which the company supplies. This year through July, full-size pickup sales increased 23 percent, according to researcher Autodata Corp.

“We are working hard to meet that demand and push as hard as they want to go,” Chief Financial Officer Michael Simonte said on a conference call with analysts and investors.

American Axle, formerly owned by the predecessor of GM, has been trying to diversify its customer base while strengthening its balance sheet.

Net income rose more than fivefold to $25.8 million, or 34 cents a share, from $4.7 million, or 6 cents a share, a year earlier, the company said. That exceed the 30-cent average of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Second-quarter sales rose 8.1 percent to $799.6 million. Sales to customers other than GM rose 13 percent to $223.8 million in the quarter.

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