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Dana Corp. surprised by large drop in 1st quarter

Profits tumbled 45% from same time in ’12

Dana Holding Corp. had cautioned that the first quarter was likely to be weak, but company officials said Thursday the results were slightly more disappointing than expected.

Profits at the Mamuee-based auto parts supplier tumbled 45 percent from last year, with Dana reporting first-quarter earnings of $34 million, or 19 cents a share. In the first quarter of 2012, Dana earned $62 million, or 33 cents a share.

“We certainly had some challenges,” Chief Executive Officer Roger Wood said during a Thursday morning conference call. “From a volume perspective, it was a little bit disappointing for sure. Even though we knew it wasn’t going to be a stellar, very strong first quarter, we did expect volumes more than we experienced.”

The company said demand for commercial vehicle components was especially weak in North America. Sales also dipped in Dana’s off-highway market in Europe and Asia. The company blamed that on soft construction and mining firms. Dana was also hurt some by the discontinuation of some light vehicle work.

That all resulted in revenue falling to $1.68 billion, down from $1.96 billion in 2012.

Shares of the company’s stock lost 2.7 percent to close at $16.84 Thursday.

In spite of the weak first quarter, company officials still believe Dana can deliver on the 2013 financial targets outlined earlier this year.

The company reaffirmed its guidance of revenues of $7.1 billion in 2013, and an expected earnings per share of $1.85 to $1.95.

Officials say they are now seeing some uptick in commercial vehicle demand, as they had expected, and also believe there are positive signs in full-size pickup production in North America.

Dana also gave an update on its share repurchase program. Since the program was authorized in October, Dana has repurchased about 3.6 million shares of common stock at total cost of about $58 billion.

On Wednesday, Dana declared a quarterly dividend of 5 cents a share, payable on May 31 to shareholders of record on May 10.

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