Autoliv Inc. (ALV) has upgraded its outlook for the first quarter of 2010 on the back of improved sales in North America and Asia due to higher light vehicle production (LVP).

The Sweden-based automotive safety components manufacturer now expects its organic sales to grow year-over-year by 65% and its consolidated sales to increase by 85%, including acquisitions and provided that current exchange rates prevail. The company also anticipates its operating margin to rise at least 11%.

While presenting the fourth quarter results in January, Autoliv had revealed that its organic sales will grow more than 50% and its consolidated sales will increase more than 70% during the first quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Autoliv has posted a profit of $1.58 per share (excluding special items), significantly better than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 80 cents and a loss of 17 cents (excluding special items) in the year-ago quarter. Improved sales and positive impact from restructuring efforts were the underlying factors behind the results.

Consolidated net sales rose 40% to $1.7 billion. Consequently, organic sales (i.e., sales excluding currency effects and acquisitions/divestitures) grew 26%, better than Autoliv’s guidance of an organic sales increase of “at least 20%” for the quarter. This was attributable to positive volumes and LVP mix in Asia, particularly China, and strong performance in North America.

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