American Axle (AXL) posted a net loss of 18 cents before special items in the third quarter of the year. This is better than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 37 cents per share.

Net sales dipped 22% to $409.6 million. However, in absolute terms, it is the highest quarterly sales of the year. The lower sales were on the back of a 18% decline in customer production volumes for the North American light truck and sport utility vehicle (SUV) programs that American Axle currently supports for GM and Chrysler.

American Axle’s content-per-vehicle (measured by the dollar value of its product sales supporting GM’s North American light truck and SUV programs and Chrysler’s Heavy Duty Dodge Ram pickup trucks) fell to $1,396 from $1,453 in the third quarter of 2008. Non-GM sales constituted 18.3% of total sales in the reported quarter. The company’s non-GM sales stood at 21.6% of total sales on a year-to-date basis.

American Axle had cash and cash equivalents of $173 million as of Sept. 30, 2009, compared to $198.8 million as of Dec. 31, 2008. Long-term debt amounted to $1.18 billion as of Sept. 30, 2009.

In the first nine months of 2009, American Axle had a net cash outflow from operating activities of $19.7 million, an improvement of $77.6 million from the prior-year period. Meanwhile, capital expenditures increased to $115.5 million from $102.8 million in the year-ago period.

American Axle is a Detroit, Michigan-based company and a leader in the supply of driveline systems, modules and components for the light vehicle market. The company manufactures axles, driveshafts and chassis components for light trucks, SUVs and passenger cars. It was hit badly by the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler due its high reliance on these companies. We continue to recommend the shares of the company as Neutral.
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