American Axle’s Q1 net income plunges

American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. saw its first-quarter net income nearly evaporate while it tries to manage the immediate disruption of supply chain volatility and the longer-term challenge of electrification.

The Detroit-based supplier’s income plunged 97 percent year-over-year to $1 million as revenue remained flat at $1.4 billion, according to its earnings report Friday.

“The industry is experiencing unprecedented supply chain volatility stemming from multiple global challenges,” CEO David Dauch told investors Friday. “We’re going to continue to grow in our conventional products. We’re going to continue to grow in our electrification.”

American Axle joins much of the automotive supplier base this week in reporting bleak performances for the quarter, underscoring the financial pain that persists among suppliers even as automakers turn significant profits.

American Axle shares dropped 3 percent to $6.85 per share as of early Friday afternoon.

The company won a contract to supply drive axles to Geely Group, based in Hangzhou, China, and pointed to its $135 million acquisition of German supplier Tekfor Group as examples of how it is winning new contracts for its core business and preparing for electrification.

“We do see a significant amount of electrification opportunities presenting themselves,” Dauch said. “Each quarter, that just continues to grow.”

The company’s adjusted EBITDA in the first quarter was $196.1 million, or 13.7 percent of sales, compared to $262.9 million, or 18.4 percent of sales, at the same time last year. Its net cash provided by operating activities for the first quarter fell more than 60 percent to $68.5 million. The company has $1.5 billion in liquidity.

For the quarter, American Axle took a $44 million hit due to the microchip shortage and higher costs of material, freight and labor. CFO Chris May said the company is negotiating with customers to recover those costs.

“We’re addressing these issues with our customers,” he said. “As you know, it’s a very sensitive topic with our customers. We’ve continued to make good progress with that.”

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