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AMERICAN AXLE'S EARNINGS UP 5% IN THIRD QUARTER

American Axle and Manufacturing posted better-than-expected earnings in the third quarter, bolstered by higher light-truck production by General Motors.

The Detroit-based parts supplier's net income rose 5 percent from a year ago, to $25.5 million. GM increased its light-truck production by 6 percent in the quarter, helping offset a 15 percent drop in production by American Axle's non-GM customers.

American Axle's quarterly sales climbed 10 percent, to $743.5 million.

Richard Dauch, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, credited a strong product portfolio and mix with helping American Axle overcome difficult conditions in the North American automotive market.

Other auto parts suppliers have posted lower earnings in the third quarter, due to the industry slowdown. Visteon Corp. reported a $95 million loss for the quarter, while Delphi Automotive Systems' net income fell 82 percent from the previous year.

Dauch said American Axle, which employs about 2,700 people in its three Western New York plants, has secured a contract with GM for a future light-duty sport utility truck known as SUT. The company will supply front and rear axles, as well as drive shafts, for the new vehicle.

Carrie Gray, a company spokeswoman, said it's not yet known if its Buffalo gear and axle plant will handle part of that work. The company also has local plants in Cheektowaga and the Town of Tonawanda.

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