Magna lowers production forecast on expected hit from tariffs
TORONTO -- Diversified Canadian supplier Magna International reported a 13 percent year-over-year gain in second-quarter net income on record sales, even as it lowered its outlook for 2018 in response to tariffs.
Magna on Wednesday said it earned $636 million in the quarter ended June 30, up from $561 million a year earlier. Sales rose 12 percent over the same time period to $10.3 billion.
Sales rose in each of the regions Magna operates, though much of the growth was driven by Europe. European sales surged 28 percent to $4.3 billion. Sales in North America, Magna's largest market, gained 3 percent to $5.2 billion, despite lower light-vehicle production, while sales in Asia increased 7 percent to $697 million.
The record revenue and higher earnings came despite tariffs issued by the Trump administration, lower sales in its complete vehicle assembly business and lower-than-expected performance of a joint-venture transmission program in Europe and China.
"We certainly had some headwinds this quarter," Magna CEO Don Walker said on a call with investors. "But even with that, we posted a good quarter."
The company lowered its 2018 outlook in response to those headwinds. It anticipates North American light-vehicle production at 17.2 million units on the year, down from 17.3 million, and total sales of between $40.3 billion and $42.5 billion, down from between $40.9 billion and $43.1 billion.
Magna shares fell in early trading on the news, dropping 7 percent $55.09 in New York.
“Our updated outlook for 2018 substantially reflects the strengthening U.S. dollar, reduced equity income from joint ventures in our transmission business, and the estimated impact of tariffs,” Magna CFO Vince Galifi said in a statement.
Magna expects tariffs to hurt its earnings beginning in the third quarter, with an estimated second-half impact of about $30 million. Most of that impact will be felt at Magna’s U.S. plants, with its plants in Canada and Mexico affected to a smaller degree, due to higher steel and aluminum import costs and tariffs on goods imported from China.
The Trump administration in May put a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The White House has also mulled a 25 percent tariff on imports of vehicles and auto parts, an idea the auto industry has heavily criticized.
Despite concerns over tariffs, Walker said there is some reason for optimism with renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. A round of NAFTA talks between the U.S. and Mexico have entered their third week as discussions around automotive content takes center stage.
“Logic would say that everything that’s happening here to try and put pressure to get a final negotiation on NAFTA,” Walker said. “But the longer this goes on, and I think everyone’s aware of this, the worse it is for NAFTA, including the U.S.”
Second-quarter sales in Magna’s body exteriors and structures business rose 11 percent to $4.6 billion. New program launches, including the Chevrolet Traverse and Jeep Cherokee, offset a decline in production volume in other vehicles it supplies.
Revenue in its powertrain and lighting business jumped 11 percent to $3.2 billion on new programs, despite the troubles with its unnamed transmission joint venture. Seating sales gained 4 percent to $1.4 billion.
Contract assembly grows
Revenue from Magna's vehicle assembly business, in which it builds vehicles for automakers including Mercedes-Benz and BMW, surged 47 percent to $1.3 billion. It built about 33,500 vehicles in the second quarter, up from 21,300 a year earlier.
The increased sales volume did not translate into higher earnings at the complete vehicles business. The unit’s adjusted earnings before interest and taxes fell to $1 million from $15 million a year earlier.
Magna pinned the decline in its vehicle assembly earnings on lower-than-expected production of the Mercedes-Benz G-class SUV "partly due to two unrelated supplier issues on the launch of the program."