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Lear Speeds Up Share Repurchase

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Lear Corp. (LEA - Free Report) plans to repurchase $600 million under its existing $1 billion share repurchase program in 2013. In Jan 2013, the company has authorized an additional $800 million shares for repurchase. With this, the company had $1.0 billion worth of shares remaining under its share repurchase program.

Previously, Lear extended the authorization of repurchase till Jan 10, 2016. However, due to the rapid pace of share repurchases, the company expects to complete the current share buyback program by the end of 2014.

Lear repurchased 1.2 million shares for $50 million in the quarter. During 2012, the company has repurchased 5.4 million shares for $223 million. Since the inception of the share repurchase program, the company has repurchased 11.5 million shares for $502 million.

In addition to the aggressive share repurchase policy, the Board of Directors of the company approved a 21% increase in quarterly dividend to 17 cents from 14 cents per share. The dividend is payable on Mar 20 to shareholders of record as of Mar 1. The management believes that twin policy of increasing dividend and accelerating share repurchase program will add shareholders value.

Lear Corporation designs, manufactures, assembles and supplies automotive seat systems, electrical distribution systems and related components primarily to automotive original equipment manufacturers. The company sells its products chiefly in North America, South America, Europe and Asia. The company retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Lear posted a 17.5% rise in adjusted earnings per share to $1.48 in the fourth quarter of 2012 from $1.26 in the corresponding quarter last year. Profits in the quarter beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate by a dime. In absolute terms, profits went up 10.4% to $144.6 million from $131.0 million in the year-ago quarter.

Revenues increased 6% to $3.7 million in the reported quarter, surpassing the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.5 million. Global industry production increased 2% year over year, with a 10% hike in North America and 4% rise in China. However, production in Europe decreased 8%.

Currently, Commercial Vehicle Group Inc. (CVGI - Free Report) , Oshkosh Corporation (OSK - Free Report) and Strattec Security with Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) are performing well in the same industry where Lear operates.

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