Valeo sales increase 6% as Europe rebounds

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PARIS (Bloomberg) -- French supplier Valeo reported a 6 percent rise in first-quarter sales on higher demand in China and North America and the end of a six-year contraction in Europe.

Sales increased to 3.11 billion euros ($4.3 billion) from 2.93 billion euros a year earlier, the company said today in a statement.

"These results demonstrate our capacity to outpace the market in all production regions and in all business groups," CEO Jacques Aschenbroich said in the statement.

Valeo, whose products span windshield wipers, headlights and stop-start ignition systems, is focusing on technology that improves safety and comfort and reduces pollution to boost profitability. Last year, it met a goal to improve earnings as a proportion of sales after growth accelerated in the second half.

Europe's car market, which is starting to revive from a two-decade low, will increase 1 percent to 2 percent this year, Valeo reiterated today.

The company stuck to a target to increase full-year sales at a faster pace than auto markets in its main regions. The company also aims for a "slight" gain in its 2014 operating margin.

Valeo said on Feb. 21 that it will build six new factories, including four in China, and increase its global workforce by one-third over the next four years.

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