UPDATE 1-ArvinMeritor profit falls on soft demand


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CHICAGO, April 23 (Reuters) - Auto parts maker ArvinMeritor Inc. on Wednesday said its quarterly profit fell, hurt by weak demand, higher steel costs and pricing pressures.

ArvinMeritor, whose products include suspension systems and replacement parts, said it earned $24 million, or 36 cents a share, in its fiscal second quarter ended March 31. That's down from $35 million, or 52 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Analysts had expected a profit of 34 cents a share in the latest quarter, with estimates ranging from 33 cents to 36 cents, according to Thomson First Call.

In March, Troy, Michigan-based ArvinMeritor cut its second-quarter earnings forecast for a second time to 33 cents to 36 cents per share.

Sales rose 18 percent to $1.99 billion, boosted by an acquisition and the stronger euro. Excluding added sales of $198 million from the purchase of the remaining 51-percent interest in Zeuna Starker and the favorable currency translation, sales were essentially flat, the company said.

The parts maker said restructuring costs reduced earnings in the latest quarter by $11 million, or 10 cents a share. ArvinMeritor will continue to aggressively cut costs and reduce its workforce to offset weak demand, higher raw materials prices and continued pricing pressures from vehicle manufacturers, it said.

The company forecast 2003 earnings in a range of $2.00 to $2.10 a share on projected sales of $7.7 billion. Third-quarter earnings were forecast at 67 cents to 72 cents a share, with sales pegged at $2.1 billion.

Analysts had expected full-year 2003 earnings of $2.05 a share and a third-quarter profit of 62 cents.



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