Valeo Sales Edge Higher as China Demand Offsets Europe Weakness

Valeo SA, France’s second-biggest maker of car parts, said first-quarter sales edged higher as growth in China and North America offset a downturn in Europe.

Sales rose to 3.04 billion euros ($3.95 billion) from 3.03 billion euros a year earlier, the Paris-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. This beat the 3 billion-euro average of four analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The French manufacturer stuck to its full-year forecast for a 4 percent decline in automotive production in Europe, 1 percent growth in global auto output and steady raw material prices. The company also reaffirmed its 2013 targets to grow sales faster than production in its main markets and for an operating margin to be “in line” with last year’s level.

Valeo, whose products span windshield wipers, headlights and ignition systems, is tightening its focus on safety, comfort and environmental technologies to increase margins. Chief Executive Officer Jacques Aschenbroich pledged last year to double revenue from fuel-saving parts to 1 billion euros by

2013. Valeo set a target in March 2011 of increasing annual revenue to 14 billion euros by 2015.

“Valeo’s performance in the first quarter once again proved the strength of our strategy, which is based on innovations and the expansion of our business in Asia and emerging countries,” Aschenbroich said in the statement. Growth in China and North America offset “particularly strong economic headwinds in Europe,” where production declined 9 percent in the first three months of 2013.

Volkswagen AG, Daimler AG, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault SA all reported lower first-quarter revenue today, burdened by the slumping European car market, which is in the midst of a six-year decline.

European car registrations fell 10 percent in March, the 18th consecutive monthly decline, as German sales plunged 17 percent, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said on April 17. First-quarter deliveries in the region dropped 9.7 percent to a record-low 3.1 million cars.

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