Magna International's publicly traded shares jumped to their highest level in more than two years Friday after the auto parts giant announced it will raise its quarterly dividend following strong second-quarter results.
The company's class A shares gained $5.47, or about 8 percent, to $81.20 in the first few minutes of trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday. It's the first time the stock has been above $81 since early 2008.
Magna said it would boost its dividend to 30 cents per share, payable Sept. 15, up from 18 cents per share.
The increase came as it reported earnings of $2.59 per share over a loss of $1.83 per share in the same quarter last year.
"We posted strong second-quarter results in a period when vehicle production in our primary markets remains low by historical standards," Magna Co-chief Executive Donald Walker told analysts on a conference call Friday.
"In North America, light vehicle production increased 75 percent as compared to the second quarter of 2009, when both General Motors and Chrysler were operating under bankruptcy protection."
The increase in Europe was less dramatic, rising 13 percent from year to year.
Magna reported sales of $6.1 billion during the quarter — an increase of 63 percent over the same period last year.
The higher sales result from increases in its complete vehicle assembly, tooling, engineering and other sales, it said.
Walker said Magna's strong second-quarter results benefited not only from the improved sales, but the company's efforts to reduce costs and production to the new market demands.
For the six-month period ended June 30, Magna's net income was $516 million and diluted earnings per share were $4.56 — increases of $921 million and $8.18 respectively compared with the first half of 2009.
For all of 2010, Magna said it expects sales to be between $22 billion and $23 billion on light vehicle production of approximately 11.5 million units in North America and 12 million units in Europe.
Magna announced a plan in May to collapse its dual-class share structure by paying founder Frank Stronach nearly $1 billion to give up his controlling stake.
A majority of common share holders approved the plan late last month, even though some said the payoff to Stronach was unreasonable.
Approval for the plan is required from the Ontario Superior Court, which has set hearings for Aug. 12-13.
Magna is Canada's largest auto parts company, with 74,000 employees, 240 manufacturing plants and 76 product development, engineering and sales centers in 25 countries.
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