BUSINESS

Auto parts giant Magna International actively seeking acquisitions: CEO

01/14/2015 08:14 EST | Updated 03/16/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Auto parts maker Magna International Inc. (TSX:MG) is actively looking for new acquisitions, with both smaller bolt-on acquisitions and larger transformational ones a possibility, CEO Don Walker says.

"We are quite actively looking. We just want to make sure we don't do anything for the sake of doing it," Walker said during an auto industry conference Wednesday.

"We want to make sure it's the right thing to do."

However, Walker noted that Magna is not looking to expand into new product categories. Instead, the manufacturer would like to focus on a few key areas where it anticipates future growth.

"We're the most diversified supplier in the world," Walker said.

"I don't think that's a good thing or a bad thing but we have been looking at every one of our product areas. We want to make sure we're going to be among the best as far as technology. And we're also trying to align ourselves with areas of the vehicle that will be positively impacted by what we see as the technologies of the cars of the future."

Magna also released its 2015 outlook Wednesday, predicting between US$34.4 billion and US$36.1 billion of sales this year.

That's lower than the US$36.3 billion of annual revenue, including about $9 billion in the fourth quarter, that Magna is expect to report for 2014, according to of survey of analysts compiled by Thomson Reuters. The company has not yet released its fourth-quarter and year-end results.

The analyst estimates are about the mid-point of Magna's guidance for 2014, issued Nov. 5, which called for between $35.8 billion and $37 billion of total sales last year.

The Canadian-based auto parts company, which reports in U.S. dollars, said its North American sales are expected to decline slightly in 2015, partly due to softening in the Canadian dollar compared with the greenback.

The company predicts sales will also be hurt by the fact that Chrysler's Windsor, Ont., assembly plant will be shut down for an extended period in 2015 as the automaker retools in preparation for a new minivan.

"It will be good for us in the long term but we're going to see some sales dip in the first half of the year," Walker said.

In total, North America is expected to generate between US$17.6 billion and US$18.2 billion in sales for Canada's largest auto parts company this year.

Meanwhile, Magna's sales in Europe, its second-biggest market, are also expected to dip in 2015, due to a number of factors including softening in the euro and the British pound, lower production volumes in some categories and a number of plant closures.

Europe is expected to generate between $9 billion and $9.4 billion of sales this year.

Magna says it expects sales in North America and Europe to accelerate in 2016 and 2017 as the European economy recovers and German and Asian manufacturers add more capacity in their North American plants.