American Axle posts net income of $235.6M, record sales

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. posted record earnings in 2015 and expects an even better 2016.

The Detroit-based auto supplier said Friday its net income was $235.6 million in 2015, a substantial increase from the $143 million it earned last year. The annual net income translated to $3.02 a share.

Sales for the full year rose to a record $3.9 billion, up from $3.7 billion last year. The company said sales of its non-General Motors Co. customers grew by 9.8 percent to a record $1.3 billion.

Its earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization rose about 11 percent to $571.1 million, or 14.6 percent of sales, as compared to $512.0 million, or 13.9 percent of sales, for the full year of 2014.

It also achieved a record gross profit of $635.4 million, or 16.3% of sales

“AAM had an outstanding year in 2015,” said AAM’s Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, David C. Dauch. “On the strength of North American light vehicle production volumes and our solid operational performance, AAM achieved record sales and record gross profit for the year. We also made measurable progress in diversifying our business and improving our capital structure.

“As we look ahead to 2016 and beyond, we remain focused on advancing our technology leadership in order to capitalize on major industry trends and drive profitable growth and business diversification.”

American Axle shares rose early Friday after the news and were up 19 percent to $14.09 a share around 11:30 a.m.

The supplier’s strong earnings were helped by a net income of $62.9 million, or $0.81 per share — nearly five times as large as the $13.6 million it earned in the fourth quarter of last year. It took only one special charge: a $800,000 cost associated with the prepayment of a loan.

Its fourth quarter earnings included non-GM sales of $323.5 million and a gross profit of $159.8 million, or 16.7 percent of sales.

GM makes up about 66 percent of American Axle’s business. Executives have said the supplier will continue to increase its non-GM customers and expects GM to make up only 50 percent of its business by the end of 2020. FCA makes up about 20 percent of AAM’s business, while Ford is less than 5 percent.

American Axle last year also started the move-in phase at its new Detroit technical center. Currently about 100 employees are working there, a spokesman said.

American Axle expects 2016 will be even better. It’s targeting full year sales of $4 billion and an EBITA of between 14.5-14.75 percent of sales.

American Axle expects 17 major program launches this year, including Nissan Titan full size truck, and a global crossover platform, for automakers like Nissan GM, Ford and others.

“2015 was a record year and we’re set up for another record year,” American Axle’s Chief Financial Officer Chris May said. “We’re in a great spot in terms of our customers, products and geographic location.”

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