Autoliv Inc. (ALV), the world's largest maker of seat belts and airbags, Tuesday reported a better-than-expected quarterly net loss on forecast-beating sales and cost cuts.

Investors welcomed the news. At 1137 GMT, Autoliv's shares traded up 24 Swedish kronor ($3.13), or 10%, at SEK262.50, outperforming the broader Stockholm market, which traded up 0.7%.

Autoliv Chief Executive Jan Carlson told Dow Jones Newswires that the restructuring program that Autoliv began last year, which included laying off more than 10,000 workers, almost a quarter of the workforce, "generated a bigger effect this quarter than we had anticipated."

He also said that sales outperformed the company's own forecast from April due to "a better model mix" in the U.S., robust car sales in China, and government incentives in Europe for consumers to scrap older cars and buy new ones.

Excluding restructuring charges of $32 million related to layoffs and other initiatives, the Swedish-American company returned to an operating profit after two quarters in the red.

Autoliv said it expects consolidated sales, including negative currency effects, to fall between 20% and 25% in the third quarter, which began July 1, due to global car production remaining at comparatively low levels. Despite this, it aims to make another operating profit in the third quarter, excluding restructuring costs, due to the cost cutting.

Net loss in the three-month period ended June 30 was $20.7 million, compared to net profit of $90.4 million in the same period a year earlier. Eleven analysts polled by Dow Jones and FactSet on average had forecast a net loss of $56 million.

Sales fell 38% to $1.19 billion from $1.91 billion a year ago, beating analysts' forecasts of $1.16 billion.

The operating loss, excluding one-off items, was $12 million, compared to a $148 million operating profit a year ago. Analysts had forecast an operating loss of $69 million.

Evli Bank analyst Michael Andersson said the result was "much better than expected."

"Autoliv has been pretty bullish ... saying (in recent months that its cost-cutting program) is ahead of plan, but that it was going this well was surprising," he added.

Autoliv's fortunes are closely connected to global car production. Carlson noted that 55 million cars were produced globally in the second quarter, up from 46 million in the first quarter. He estimated that another 55 million cars will be produced in the third quarter, followed by 58 million units in the fourth quarter.

Carlson said Autoliv aimed to emerge from the crisis in good shape. "We're viewing ourselves, at this point, as one of the clear winners" among auto-related companies, he said. "So far we've done most things right."

Evli's Andersson agreed. "Auto companies are going under to the left and right, but Autoliv has strengthened its position," he said.

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-By Ola Kinnander, Dow Jones Newswires; +46-8-5451-3097;