American Axle earnings rise in 2Q

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. said Friday its earnings jumped more than 12 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, but shares of stock traded lower on news the automaker will lose a significant portion of General Motors Co. business tied to a future program.

The Detroit-based auto supplier said net income rose to $58.6 million or 75 cents a share and sales grew about 6 percent in the quarter to $1 billion. The company said its sales to non-GM customers grew by more than 15 percent in the quarter.

In the year ago quarter, American Axle made $52.2 million or 67 cents a share.

“AAM’s second-quarter financial performance was highlighted by quarterly records for sales and profit dollars, driven by sales growth that continues to outpace the industry and strong operational performance,” David C. Dauch, American Axle’s chairman, president and CEO, said in a statement.

Analysts were expecting earnings per share of 71 cents. They had predicted slightly higher revenue than American Axle delivered. The supplier also reduced its sales target for the full year and revealed it has won some GM business, but will lose some on a future program. American Axle shares closed down about 5.5 percent Friday at $19.98 a share.

American Axle said Friday it has been selected as a target supplier for GM’s next generation full-size truck and SUV program to provide axles and driveshafts on the trucks and SUVs. Dauch, in a call with analysts, said American Axle expects to retain 75 percent of the sales content it has on GM’s current full-size pickup and SUV program on the next-generation program.

The next generation truck and SUV program for GM isn’t due for a few years and American Axle said it is working to hard to fill the lost business estimated at about 12.5 percent of its current sales and capacity that won’t be used for GM. American Axle Chief Financial Officer Michael Simonte said the current GM truck and SUV program represents about 50 percent of the company’s overall revenue.

“We have about three years to identify the gap… and that’s exactly what we’re going to do,” Simonte told analysts and investors in a call Friday.

American Axle said it expects full year sales in a range of $3.9 billion to $3.95 billion, down from its previous outlook of $4 billion to $4.1 billion. Foreign currency, lower metal prices and a delay in a customer program are partially to blame. It also boosted its business backlog of future annual sales by $50 million to $875 million from 2015-17 due to expansion of a global light vehicle program in China. American Axle said 60 percent of that backlog is for non GM business.

“We really felt we had a great quarter and we’re just going to keep the momentum going in the second half of the year,” Simonte said.

The company said Friday it has appointed Simonte to president and Christopher J. May to vice president and chief financial officer effective Aug. 1. Simonte, 51, has worked for American Axle for nearly 17 years. May, 45, most recently served as treasurer of the company. He has worked for the supplier for 21 years.

Dauch will continue to serve as chairman and CEO. Both Simonte and May will report to Dauch.

The supplier named Alberto L. Satine to president of the driveline business unit and Norman Willemse as president of metal formed products.

American Axle was founded in 1994 when investors bought five former GM plants.