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Lear Swings To 1Q Profit On Higher Sales; Lifts Revenue View

DOW JONES NEWSWIRES Lear Corp. (LEA) swung to a first-quarter profit, with the auto-parts maker reporting a better-than-expected sales jump from last year's depressed levels, as automobile production improves along with the economy. The company also raised its 2010 sales forecast to about $11 billion from $10.2 billion to $10.7 billion. The maker of automotive seating systems, electrical distribution systems and electronic products cut its debt obligations and shed thousands of workers while in bankruptcy, giving the company improved liquidity. In March, Moody's Investors Service said it expected Lear's margins to continue to improve this year. The ratings agency said it continue to project stronger production in the U.S., although demand in Europe is expected to fall slightly. Lear posted a profit of $66.1 million, or $1.22 a share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $264.8 million, or $3.42 a share. The year-earlier results included $121.2 million in costs related to restructuring and other items. Net sales grew 36% to $2.94 billion. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a profit of 86 cents on revenue of $2.76 billion. Revenue rose 42% in North America, and grew 20% in Europe. Roughly two-thirds of the company's sales were generated outside of North America in the latest quarter. In the larger seating segment, sales grew 32%, while they jumped 50% in the electrical segment. Both segments benefited from higher global vehicle production and favorable exchange rates. Shares closed Wednesday at $76.96 and were inactive premarket. -By John Kell, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2480;

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