Adient starts trading in tough market for auto stocks

October 31, 2016 3:17 PM EDT
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(Reuters) - Adient (NYSE: ADNT), the automotive seating and interiors company spun off from Johnson Controls International Inc (NYSE: JCI), started trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday and ran into the downdraft buffeting other automotive stocks, despite an optimistic outlook.

Adient Chairman and Chief Executive Bruce McDonald and executive vice president Byron Foster told Reuters on Monday they expect continued growth in global vehicle sales, and expressed confidence the company can expand sales and profit margins for its automotive seat and interiors businesses.

Adient is the largest player in automotive seats, with a 34 percent global share of a business dominated by just five companies.

Despite renewed cost-cutting pressure from automakers, "We think we have a couple hundred basis points of margin expansion we can deliver, based on things we have 100 percent control of," McDonald said.

Adient has reported that earnings before interest and taxes for the first nine months of Adient's 2016 fiscal year were $1.2 billion, or 9.4 percent of revenues.

For its 2017 fiscal year, Adient last month projected revenues between $16.8 billion and $17 billion, and adjusted net income of $850 million to $900 million.

Foster said the company believes the North American and Chinese vehicle markets will continue to be strong. "We don't see a softening going forward," he said. The company has said it expects to book about $6 billion in new business this year in its consolidated and joint venture operations, up from $3.55 billion booked in 2015.

Adient shares were trading at $45.37 a share in mid-afternoon trading, down about 1.3 percent, despite positive analyst comments about the company. Shares of former parent JCI, now focused on energy management systems for buildings, were up 2.7 percent at $40.23.

McDonald and Foster said Adient does not anticipate major acquisitions, although it could consider deals to acquire emerging technology or expand in Southeast Asia.

"Our industry is an oligopoly to some extent," McDonald said. "Buying one of our largest competitors doesn’t make a lot of sense."

(Reporting by Joseph White)

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