Fueled by strong sales in its Heavy Vehicle Systems division, Meritor Automotive has reported double-digit growth earnings for the ninth consecutive quarter.

Net income for its first fiscal quarter, which ended December 31, 1999, was $97 million on sales of $1.1 billion. Sales were up 20% from the same period last year. Net income before special items was up $6 million, to $46 million, an earnings per share increase of 19% over the same period last year. Special items in the first quarter included a one-time gain of $83 million from the sale of Meritor's seat adjusting systems business.
"We continued our strong earnings momentum in the first quarter, reporting our ninth consecutive quarter of double-digit earnings growth before special items," noted chairman/CEO Larry Yost.
Heavy Vehicle Systems sales were $730 million for the quarter, up $172 million or 31% from first quarter last year. The company attributed the sales growth to continuing strength of the North American HVS, which was partially offset by a decline in the European trailer market and the negative impact of currency translation.
HVS sales in North America, excluding acquisitons and transmission and clutch sales now reported by the ZF Meritor joint venture, were up $69 milion or 18%. European sales were down $7 million or 8%. South American sales were down $2 million or 12%. Asia/Pacific sales were up $9 million or 75%.