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Edited Transcript of ALV earnings conference call or presentation 25-Oct-19 12:00pm GMT

Q3 2019 Autoliv Inc Earnings Call

Stockholm Oct 31, 2019 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Autoliv Inc earnings conference call or presentation Friday, October 25, 2019 at 12:00:00pm GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Anders Trapp

Autoliv, Inc. - VP of IR

* Christian Hanke

Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller

* Mikael Bratt

Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director

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Conference Call Participants

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* Christopher Patrick McNally

Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - MD

* Erik Pettersson-Golrang

SEB, Research Division - Head of Research for Sweden

* Hampus Engellau

Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Automotive Analyst

* James Albert Picariello

KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Analyst

* Joseph Robert Spak

RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst

* Sascha Sebastian Gommel

Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst

* Shreyas Patil

Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst

* Steven Michael Hempel

Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst

* Vijay Raghavan Rakesh

Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Research Division - MD of Americas Research & Senior Semiconductor Analyst

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Presentation

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Operator [1]

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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by, and welcome to today's Quarter 3 Autoliv Financial Results 2019 Conference Call. (Operator Instructions) I must advise you that this conference is being recorded today, Friday, 25th of October 2019.

And I would now like to turn the conference over to your first speaker today, Mr. Anders Trapp, VP of Investor Relations. Please go ahead, sir.

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Anders Trapp, Autoliv, Inc. - VP of IR [2]

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Thank you, Carl. Welcome everyone to our third quarter 2019 earnings presentation. Here in Stockholm, we have our President and CEO, Mikael Bratt; our Interim Chief Financial Officer, Christian Hanke; and myself, Anders Trapp, Vice President of Investor Relations.

During today's earnings call, our CEO will provide a brief overview of our third quarter results as well as provide an update on our general business and market conditions. Following Mikael, Christian will provide further details and commentary around the Q3 2019 financial results and outlook for our full year 2019. At the end of our presentation, we will remain available to respond to your questions. And as usual, the slides are available through a link on the homepage of our corporate website.

On the next page, we have the safe harbor statement, which is an integrated part of this presentation and, of course, includes the Q&A that follows. During the presentation, we will reference some non-U. S. GAAP measures. The reconciliations of historical U.S. GAAP to non-U. S. GAAP measures are disclosed in our quarterly press release and the 10-Q that will be filed with the SEC. All figures in this presentation refer to continuing operations, i.e., excluding discontinued operations. Lastly, I should mention that this call is intended to conclude at 3:00 p.m. CET sharp. (Operator Instructions)

I will now turn it over to our CEO, Mikael Bratt.

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [3]

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Thank you, Anders. Looking now into the Q3 2019 highlights on the following page. First, I would like to say that I'm generally pleased that our operations reported improved adjusted operating margin compared to the second quarter despite challenging vehicle and cost for raw materials. The reason for the improvement is mainly the actions initiated in the previous quarters to mitigate the effect of tough market conditions and elevated launch costs. Although the rate of decline in the light vehicle production slowed down somewhat, uncertainty remains high. Market outlook by IHS continued to be revised down, and we do not see any turnaround in the light vehicle production in the near term.

The strike at General Motors affected our operations in North America, adding to the challenges we already face. We continued to outperform light vehicle production, growing organically 4.6 percentage points more than light vehicle production, driven mainly by a strong development in China. Being a truly global company, we feel the full force of the global light vehicle production decline. And the wave of new launches is what generates our outperformance. This quarter marks the sixth consecutive quarter of substantially higher organic growth compared to the market, further increasing our market share.

Order intake share continued at a good level, supporting prolonged outperformance. Being close to our customers are key to strengthening our competitiveness. In the quarter, 2 new customer collaborations were announced. Firstly, creation of a North American road safety research lab in Baoding, China, with Great Wall. Secondly, developing next-generation passenger airbags in cooperation with Honda. We continued to actively manage the business cycle downturn. Adding to the reduction of direct workforce headcount in the second quarter, we reduced totally workforce by further 800 during the third quarter. Compared to a year ago, headcount is about 1,600 less despite growing our sales organically by more than 1% year-over-year.

Looking now at the structural efficiency program more in detail on the next slide. Here, we have summarized the structural efficiency program as we have identified structural cost improvement opportunities. We have already started to see the positive effects of the program, although limited in the quarter. For full year 2019, we expect savings to amount to around $10 million, and the program should reach its full effect by December 2020.

Most countries where we have operations will be impacted, though higher impact in North America and Europe is expected. Headcount is estimated to be reduced by almost 800, which is about 4% of total indirect headcount. The cost for program is estimated to be around USD 60 million and the cash out to be spread from Q2 '19 to Q2 2020. Annualized savings is estimated to be around USD 60 million, which is equal to about 5% of indirect labor costs.

We continue to evaluate our global operations and to optimize our footprint. It's likely that this will result in additional restructurings in further future quarters. This is, of course, not all we do to improve our long-term efficiency. We are investing in building the foundation for improving the value chain from end to end, such as flexible automation, digitalization and in engineering efficiency. We intend to discuss these more in detail during our CMD on November 19.

Looking now at the recap of our third quarter financial performance on the next slide. Our consolidated net sales virtually flat compared to Q3 '18, impacted by weaker currencies with organic sales increasing by more than 1% despite the global light vehicle production falling by more than 3%. Adjusted operating income, excluding cost for capacity alignments, antitrust-related matters and separation costs, decreased by around 6% from $194 million to $183 million, impacted by lower light vehicle production and raw material pricing. The adjusted operating margin decreased by 50 basis points to 9% compared to the same quarter of 2018. Adjusted EPS decreased by $0.05 compared to Q3 '18, mainly due to lower operating income.

Looking now on the market development. The negative trend that started around mid-last year has continued. Global light vehicle production is estimated to have fallen by 6% year-to-date, the worst performance since the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 and with more than 3% in the third quarter according to IHS.

China's light vehicle market contracted for the 15th straight month in September, despite dealerships in many provinces providing generous discounts and some efforts by the government to boost sales. Light vehicle sales and light vehicle production, both fell by approximately 6% in the quarter. Consequently, we did not see any meaningful reduction of light vehicle inventories, and we continue to see OEMs still carrying fairly high inventories.

U.S. light vehicle sales finished the quarter up 1% compared to last year while sales in Mexico fell by more than 8%. Light vehicle production in North America decreased by 1%, which was almost 3 percentage points lower than originally forecast at the beginning of quarter. One reason for the lower light vehicle production was a strike at GM's U.S. facilities.

Thanks to the higher vehicle sales, inventories declined by

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to a healthy 3.6 million. European light vehicle registrations were 2% higher, and light vehicle production was 1% higher than during the same period in 2018. However, the important West European production is still on a low level as it dropped 1% this year following double-digit decline in Q3 '18, when many OEMs reduced volumes due to the WLTP introduction.

Looking to our sales growth on the next slide. Our sales continued to outperform global light vehicle production, substantially outgrowing light vehicle production in China, rest of the world and Americas. In the quarter, Americas and China contributed with $30 million and $40 million, respectively, to the organic growth. This was partly offset by slowing sales in Europe. In North America, sales were driven by product launches from previous quarters, mainly with Honda, GM, Nissan, BMW and Tesla. The organic growth of around 4% was close to 5 percentage points higher than the change in light vehicle production.

Our sales in South America increased by 31% organically, substantially outperforming light vehicle production. In Europe, we have been affected by weaker demand from a number of OEMs, including Daimler, JLR, BMW and Toyota. Additionally, our sales were negatively affected by OEM delaying a key model launch which now is on track. These and a few other important launches should improve our relative performance in the fourth quarter.

Sales in China increased organically by 11%, thanks to the strong order intake in recent years, outperforming light vehicle production with both global and domestic OEMs. Combined, we outperformed by around 17 percentage points. The higher sales were mainly driven by higher sales to global OEMs, mainly Honda and VW.

Our sales in Japan underperformed light vehicle production due to negative mix, impacted by car models selling well ahead of the increase in consumption tax on October 1. As we have said before, we expect an improved sales performance from new product launches in Japan to begin in Q4 2019.

Sales in rest of Asia outgrew light vehicle production by 8 percentage points, despite an organic sales decline by 3%. This sales decline was mainly a result of the weaker market in India.

Looking into our key model launches in Q3 '19 on the next slide. Here, you see some of the key models launched during third quarter. These models are well distributed across the globe and have an Autoliv content per vehicle from USD 100 up to USD 400 per car. Particularly interesting is to see our content on the PEUGEOT 208, one of Europe's best-selling models. The 208 will be offered both with traditional combustion engines and full electrical powertrain, both versions with the same safety content from Autoliv. Going into the fourth quarter, we again have a high level of launch activities to support new vehicles to be introduced over the coming quarters and that will prolong outperformance of LVP.

I will now hand over to our Interim CFO, Christian Hanke, to speak on the financials.

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [4]

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Thank you, Mikael. Looking now to our financials on the next page, we have our key figures for the third quarter. Including negative currency translation effects of around $30 million and organic sales growth of $25 million, our net sales reached $2 billion. Our gross margin declined year-on-year. The net operating leverage on the higher organic sales was more than offset by higher commodity costs. Additionally, we experienced lower capacity utilization in most regions due to the sharp drop in light vehicle production.

Our adjusted operating margin of 9% declined year-on-year, mainly due to the lower gross profit and slightly higher SG&A in relation to sales. A comment here is that saving from the structural efficiency program was very limited in the third quarter. Our adjusted return on capital employed and return on equity were 19% and 23%, respectively. And we have maintained our quarterly dividend at $0.62.

Looking now on the next slide. Our adjusted operating margin of 9% was 50 bps lower year-on-year. As illustrated by the chart, the adjusted operating margin was negatively impacted by higher raw material costs of 60 bps and 30 bps from SG&A and RD&E, partly offset by 30 bps from FX effects. Despite the low organic growth, our operations yielded a positive margin contribution. This improvement was mainly a result of improving launch-related costs and effects from continuous improvement, business cycle management and, of course, growth from new product launches. These positive factors were partly offset by the disproportionate negative impact the LVP decline had on mature platforms with normal operating leverage.

Looking on the next slide. Operating cash flow was strong and amounted to $195 million, which was $43 million lower than from continuing operations in 2018, mainly explained by the lower net income. Q3 cash flow last year was particularly strong with a cash conversion of more than 100%, while it was 85% this quarter.

Capital expenditures amounted to $122 million in the third quarter, which is about 6% in relation to sales. In the third quarter of 2018, capital expenditures for continuing operations were $117 million or around 5.8% of sales. For the full year '19, we expect capital expenditures in relation to sales to be in line with 2018. Excluding the EC antitrust fine, last 12 months of operating cash flow was $820 million, and the last 12-month cash conversion on net income was 7% to 8%.

Looking now to our earnings per share on the next slide. We have the EPS development. Reported earnings per share declined by $0.36 to $0.98. The main drivers behind the decrease are around $0.31 from higher cost for capacity alignments and approximately $0.08 from lower adjusted operating income. In Q3 '19, the adjusted earnings per share decreased by $0.05 to $1.30 compared to the same period 1 year ago.

Looking now to our financial position on the next slide. We have, as you know, a long history of a prudent financial policy. Our balance sheet focus and shareholder-friendly capital allocation policy remains unchanged despite the current market conditions. Autoliv's policy is to maintain a leverage ratio of around 1x net debt-to-EBITDA within a range of 0.5 to 1.5x. As of September 30, 2019, the company had a leverage ratio of 1.8x, which is slightly lower compared to what we reported for June 30. The main reasons for the high leverage ratio or the capitalization of Veoneer in 2018 and the payment of the fine for the remaining portion of the EC investigation in the second quarter of 2019. Our strong free cash flow generation should allow deleveraging and should allow continued returns to shareholders while providing flexibility. We expect to be around 1.7x by the end of 2019. This excludes any other discrete items and other nonforeseeable changes to our business.

Looking at market development for the next of the year on the next slide. The outlook for major light vehicle markets has become increasingly more uncertain due to weaker consumer confidence, trade tariffs and regulatory changes. According to IHS, fourth quarter is expected to -- in the North American light vehicle production is seen down 10% for the fourth quarter, partly as a result of the UAW strike in the beginning of the quarter affecting all GM assembly plants in the United States. LVP in China is expected to continue to decline but at a more modest rates than what we have seen in recent quarters.

European Q4 production is anticipated to decline by around 2% on lower demand. Japanese production will see a tipping point after October 2019 due to the increasing consumption tax from 8 to 10 percentage points, which affects domestic demand and an export sector, which will be negatively impacted by stagnant global demand. It is worth noting that since January of this year, IHS has reduced their full year '19 expectations of global light vehicle production by 6.4 million units or by 7 percentage points to around 86 million units.

Reflecting the increasing uncertainty in the market, our base scenario for global light vehicle production in 2019 is a decline of 6% to 7%, which is lower than the IHS outlook of 5.9%. The reason for our more negative view of global light vehicle production compared to IHS is that we have seen drops and call-offs in Japan, India and Korea due to lower demand and delays of certain new models. However, we expect to outgrow light vehicle production by 6 to 7 percentages points.

Looking on the next slide. We have summarized our full year '19 indications. The uncertainty remains high in a falling LVP environment, and we currently do not see any signs of a turnaround in light vehicle demand, and therefore, we now indicate full year 2019 sales and profitability in the lower ends of our previously communicated ranges. These indications exclude cost for capacity alignments and antitrust-related matters and assumes mid-October exchange rates prevail. Note that exchange rates have been quite volatile in recent history and could well continue to be so in the near future.

Our financial outlook assumes a 6% to 7% decline of global light vehicle production. The range reflects the continuing high level of uncertainty in the automotive markets. We expect our organic growth to be around 7 percentage points higher than global LVP. Consequently, our full year indication is for a 1% organic sales growth with a negative currency translation effect of around 3%, resulting in a net sales decline of around 2% for 2019.

Reflecting the lower light vehicle production assumption, our indication for the adjusted operating margin is around 9% for full year '19. We expect the 2019 raw material costs to be -- to increase by approximately 60 basis points. We anticipate the currency effects on the operating margin for full year '19 to be relatively neutral. Operating cash flow, excluding the previous EC antitrust payment and any unforeseen events, is expected to be between $700 million to $800 million.

I will now hand back to Mikael.

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [5]

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Thank you, Christian. Turning the page. As illustrated by this chart, we have been able to gradually reduce the margin declines versus last year for more than 200 basis points in the 2 first quarters to 50 basis points in Q3 2019. This is despite continued headwinds from raw materials and light vehicle production decline more than expected. The chart also shows sequential improvements. The main reason for the sequential improvement is the business cycle management activities, improved launch cost efficiency as well as our strong focus on continuous improvement throughout the organization.

As implied by our full year indication, we expect the sequential margin improvement trend to continue in Q4. In addition to positive contribution from our continuous improvements activities, we should start to see effects from the structural efficiency program as well as seasonally higher sales and seasonally higher engineering income and lower raw material headwinds. Although uncertainties continue to effect the industry volumes, we expect to outperform light vehicle production for the remainder of year in all major regions.

To put things in context, this year has been dramatic. The year started with light vehicle production expected to grow by 1%, while now 9 months later, it is expected to decline by 6% to 7%. That is a 7 to 8 percentage point change for the entire company to deal with.

Additionally, we were affected by social unrest in Matamoros, Mexico, in the first quarter, which created disturbances and substantial cost increases for us. Although we are not pleased with our profit levels, we are somewhat proud that in such dramatic environment we are able to guide for around 9% adjusted operating margin, not least in the light of the unusual combination of sharply falling LVP demand and rising raw material costs.

Looking now on the next slide. Our CMD is now less than a month away. At our facilities in Utah, we will show how we will improve our company further taking Autoliv to the next level of growth, cost improvements and returns. I'm looking forward to seeing many of you there.

I will now hand back to Anders.

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Anders Trapp, Autoliv, Inc. - VP of IR [6]

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Thank you, Mikael. Turning the page. This concludes our formal comments for today's earnings call, and we would like to now open up the line for questions. So I hand it back to the operator, Carl.

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Questions and Answers

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Operator [1]

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(Operator Instructions) And our first question comes from the line of Chris McNally from Evercore.

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Christopher Patrick McNally, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - MD [2]

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A couple of questions maybe on the margin progression. I think you commented, obviously, it's been a tough year based on $600 million or $700 million of revenue delta. As we think about 2020, though, I think you guys have laid out a pretty strong argument on the cost structure getting better from the actions that have been pretty much taken place. I mean if -- just back of the envelope math, it seems like you have $70 million left to ago. So even if only a portion of that happens, that could be 40 or 50 basis points. You'll get some of the raw materials back, and then, obviously, you still have organic growth. So we get this question a lot. Is it feasible that you could sort of have -- look, everything changes on the volume side. But could we have a 75 or 100 basis point improvement next year just on the reversion of some of these factors and again putting sort of base production aside, just thinking things stay where they are and don't get better?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [3]

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Yes. I think we are not in a position now to start to comment on what we believe of 2020 here. But of course, we are extremely focused here on continuing to adjust our cost base in relation to the overall market development here. And as we have alluded to before, we have also now the full focus on making sure that we capture all the opportunities. So being a fully focused company on our core businesses here and want to see here improvements along the value chain. So I think we have been quite clear on how our ambitions in driving that. That should support improved profitability in the years to come here. But going into any detailed discussion around 2020 is way too early here. And I think the uncertainty we talked about in the second quarter has just been reinforced in the third quarter here on where the market is going. So I think we needed to be keeping a close eye on that to start with and then take steps from there.

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Christopher Patrick McNally, Evercore ISI Institutional Equities, Research Division - MD [4]

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Okay. Great. And then just another quick one on the order book. I mean I think you commented it's been -- order levels remain at good levels and maybe that's not 50% still, but you maybe at something pretty close to it. It's been almost 2 years since Key Safety and Joyson took over Takata, and it seems like it's been a very subdued reemergence for them. Could you just talk qualitatively about what you're seeing in the bid process? Are they just very selective? Are they really just trying to retain current customers and not trying to aggressively sort of retake some of the share that was lost?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [5]

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I can't really comment, of course, on what they are doing because I simply don't know. I mean we are focusing on our business here. And of course, as a global player, they are visible in the market in a sense that we probably go for a lot of the same business opportunities here. But as you know, it's a tender business, and our full focus here is on delivering on our commitments here when it comes to quality and delivery precision and, of course, being price competitive. And I think we have shown here in the last couple of years here that we are in a good position to defend the market share, which we are growing into and that this, of course, our full focus. So I don't see any other priorities for us than to focus on our own business.

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Operator [6]

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Our next question comes from the line of James Picariello from KeyBanc Capital.

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James Albert Picariello, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Analyst [7]

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Can you talk about the industry order trends? I mean you made another comment this quarter that bookings activity for the industry was weak yet again. What's your -- what are your thoughts for the fourth quarter? And any color that you could provide as it relates to your share gain trends?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [8]

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Yes. I think first of all, I mean, as we have indicated here that we have an order intake still on healthy levels, and exact numbers, we will come back to when we close this year. But the point here is really that the order intake we have supports prolonged outperformance as we move forward here. Then in terms of the absolute volume of the orders that -- or the RFQs that is out there, it's lower than what we have seen in previous year -- last year. But we should remember also that every year is not equal here. It depends very much on how the model years are and all the plans to renew them and so on is looking like.

So I'm not reading in any changes or fundamental changes to how the ordinary course of business is looking like when it comes to putting out RFQs. It just happened to be a year with slightly lower activities or numbers out there. But as we have indicated before in Q2 here, we expected second half of the year to be higher than the first half, and that still stands. So I would say, the gradual improvement. And then of course, it means that Q4 is an important quarter to ultimately define on where we ended up for the full year. So little bit higher activities in Q4 here is expected.

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James Albert Picariello, KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., Research Division - Analyst [9]

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Got it. And then hopefully I didn't miss this, but what was the quantified GM strike impact in the quarter? And what are you baking in for the fourth quarter?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [10]

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We haven't given a number for it. But in the third quarter, you could say it's affected by around 2 weeks of sales to GM in North America as the strike started mid -- end September here -- mid, I should say. And then it's still ongoing here. There is, if I understand right, a vote today within the UAW and workers there to accept agreement that is in place or not. So hopefully, we will see an end to the strike later today. That means that it's another 4 weeks, and that 4 weeks is, obviously, a part of the fourth quarter here. So all in all, we're talking about potentially 6 weeks. And GM sales to us is around 3% on total sales. So of course, it's a big and important customer to us and has a sizable impact. But if you look at the totality in the global scene, it is then the 3% that I talked about.

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Operator [11]

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Our next question comes from the line of Hampus Engellau from Handelsbanken.

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Hampus Engellau, Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Automotive Analyst [12]

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Would it be possible for you to maybe discuss on what you see in terms of ramp-up for 2020? And if -- on a comparable basis, how much launches do you have for 2020 compared to '19, just to understand the dynamics here? That's my first question.

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [13]

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Thank you. I would say that -- I mean, 2020, of course, is a year where we continue to launch and launched on the order book we have talked about here. So I would say we have now come up to a new normal, so to speak. So I think in the number of launches, I don't have a number to share here, but I don't expect to see a dramatic step-up here as we are now in the midst of the wave, so to speak. So the activity level has risen to new height here that we will continue on. So as you remember, the wave started in North America and moved on into China, and we now expect in the fourth quarter, Japan starting to gear up and have outperformance more visible in that part of the world. And by that, I mean, we are at the new normal.

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Hampus Engellau, Handelsbanken Capital Markets AB, Research Division - Automotive Analyst [14]

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And in terms of the adjustments you've seen on your customer base in terms of production, et cetera, has there been any delays at OEMs, or delaying a launch of a certain model? Or is it just that they're reducing the run rate on the back of lower demand?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [15]

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It's really the run rate that is the effect here. As we mentioned here earlier in the presentation, we have had some delays of start of production, but it has no connection to the overall market development. It has been more, let's call it, technical decisions from the OEM and has nothing to do with ourselves. And it has, as we see, nothing to do with the overall market development. It has been other reason and not material, I would say.

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Operator [16]

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Our next question comes from the line of Joseph Spak from RBC Capital Markets.

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Joseph Robert Spak, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [17]

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Maybe just quickly on the implied fourth quarter margin guidance, which is about 200 basis points. So if we follow along with your estimate of the indirect labor savings, that seems like it should be about 50 basis points, and then you have -- you typically have the lower R&D in the fourth quarter with the recoveries, which seems like it could be maybe 80 basis points. Is the rest just -- should we think about the remainder as just sort of leverage on some higher sales quarter-over-quarter? Or is there another factor we should think about for the fourth quarter?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [18]

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I think the key factors here for the step-up in performance here to get towards our full year guidance here is that we always have the seasonality affect between the quarters, Q3 to Q4. And part of that is, of course, increased sales. It is increased sales and R&D engineering income. And now this year also in combination then with the efficiency programs that we are conducting and as indicated here, we see giving results spiking. So that's the main factors here. But I'll let you do the math there...

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Joseph Robert Spak, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [19]

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Okay. Maybe then -- I appreciate the comments on the indirect workforce. It looks like on the direct workforce, you also took out another maybe 570 employees. Can you just update us where you are in that process?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [20]

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Yes. I think -- I mean that's something that all our plants is very close to, and constantly assess the needed resources to meet the capacity requirement we have and commitment we have towards our customers. So that is a constant ongoing process to make sure we are well balanced in our different plants here. And therefore, we talk quite a lot about the flexibility and agility to meet with the changing demands here. And I think the organization is demonstrating that they are on top of it and showing good proactiveness in that area. So I feel that we are managing that in a good way.

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Joseph Robert Spak, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [21]

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So there's no sort of target there. That's just sort of flexible with how you see the environment...

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [22]

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Yes. There is no absolute target per plant when it comes to direct workforce. I mean it is the part of making sure we have flexibility, as I said. And of course, as we always do, working intensively with productivity improvements. So that's a part of our daily business, so to speak. And of course, when we face these headwinds, you can say, we try to put in an extra gear there, but support our normal business.

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Joseph Robert Spak, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [23]

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Right. Finally, I know you went through the IHS forecast and your guidance is build off the call-offs and you talked about Japan, India, Korea. I think you called out as areas of maybe some more conservatism. Just curious though about your thoughts, I guess, of relative to HIS on China and on Europe because we're hearing some talk of plant shutdowns there as well in the fourth quarter. So is that factored into your outlook as well?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [24]

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Yes. I think -- I mean we see weaker demand across the LVP across the board here. I think we called out these countries here now because they are the ones that have actually hold up the longest, I mean if you look at Japan and so forth. So -- and Japan was still growing in the third quarter. Hence, you could say partly due to the pretax here. So we'll see a bigger shift there. And when it comes to rest of the regions here, it's still negative and increasing reductions. So that is, yes...

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Joseph Robert Spak, RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division - Analyst [25]

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But are you more in line with IHS for those other regions?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [26]

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We don't disclose region-by-region exactly how we link up to the IHS here. I think -- I mean we -- of course, when we have a quarter in front of us here, we look at the call-offs we have and so on. So I mean in terms of anything you hear about plant closure, et cetera, it's very tangible for us, of course, in our customer dialogue. So I just want to say that I mean when that is happening, it's, of course, a part of what we see for the coming quarter.

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Operator [27]

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Our next question comes from the line of Vijay Rakesh from Mizuho.

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Vijay Raghavan Rakesh, Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Research Division - MD of Americas Research & Senior Semiconductor Analyst [28]

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Just a couple of questions. I think as you look at 2020, things on the LVP side should start to look a little bit better just from a comps perspective given how bad 2019 was. But I was trying to figure out, if you look at China, you mentioned there's multiple discounts and the provinces were doing for -- to stimulate LVP, but it's not picked up. So I was wondering what drives better LVP in China into next year?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [29]

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Yes. I think -- I mean we haven't really -- I mean, as I said, we haven't comment on 2020 here because I think it's way too early to have a strong view on how 2020 would play out in terms of demand with the high uncertainty that we have. So I think we need to wait to come back on that. But I mean there's many moving parts right now that creates this uncertainty across the board. I mean we have everything around the driveline, meaning if there are any restrictions and in some countries there are restrictions on the traditional drivelines pushing for new ones. We have in China, specifically, then as you mentioned situations where we have the China 6 and then people also that have the China 5 maybe have difficulty to offset that vehicle to invest in a new vehicle. So that has changed the landscape a little bit. And of course, we have the geopolitical situations surrounding China also here. So as well the driveline issue there altogether. So I mean there is so many moving parts that needs to, I think, to be settled before we have some more clarity here. So we have to come back to that in the next quarter.

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Vijay Raghavan Rakesh, Mizuho Securities USA LLC, Research Division - MD of Americas Research & Senior Semiconductor Analyst [30]

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Got it. And just as I look at Europe or Western Europe, I know it's an important geography for you. When you look at this year, obviously, WLTP was a huge headwind. Is there any issue with the new carbon regulations next year? Or you think that will be much more benign than what we saw this year?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [31]

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I think the legislation next year is of a different nature, so to speak, and I think that comes more to how the mix of the fleet would look like. But I think that also adds to the mix here in terms of uncertainty for the consumer depending on which jurisdiction you're planning to buy the vehicle and the tax implication of that and then, of course, how well the respective OEM is starting to meet the targets in the new environment there. So I would say, creates a little bit wait and see for many consumers, as we see right now. Plus in terms of meeting, I think it's very individual on the OEM. But it's not the same kind of question as the WLTP was when it was in test cycle.

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Operator [32]

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Your next question comes from the line of Erik Golrang from SEB.

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Erik Pettersson-Golrang, SEB, Research Division - Head of Research for Sweden [33]

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I have 2 questions. The first one is a follow-up on order intake, or the sort of market availability of orders for this year that you had previously. And it dates back to '18. Was '18 an extraordinarily high order level for the total market?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [34]

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Yes. Extraordinary, I don't know, but it was high year. So I would say, yes.

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Erik Pettersson-Golrang, SEB, Research Division - Head of Research for Sweden [35]

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And then the second question. You've talked about some markets being indicated to be weaker than IHS and so on. But I guess, you've had now for a bit more than a year, you've been talking about very high volatility in terms of customer call-offs with very changes with very short lead times, even within the sort of closed window. Has that also continued at an unchanged pace?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [36]

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No. Not in the same fashion as we had it during the autumn last year. Then, especially Europe was very challenging during the WLTP situation there. So I say this year, it's less volatile, but of course, still as the market is falling, it comes with shorter notice. But it's not like it's going up or down. It's more falling trend, but more than expected.

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Erik Pettersson-Golrang, SEB, Research Division - Head of Research for Sweden [37]

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Okay. But to the extent that there is a difference, it's compared to last year and not really second half this year versus first half.

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [38]

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No. It's really compared to last year.

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Operator [39]

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Your next question comes from the line of Emmanuel Rosner from Deutsche Bank.

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Unidentified Analyst, [40]

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It's [Edison] on for Emmanuel. Two questions. First on the margin. Can you just kind of help us maybe think about the impact in 4Q from the launch costs the raw mats and FX? It looks like especially the raw mats were still pretty material in the third quarter. So just kind of how we should think about that? And then -- and the second question. It looks like the organic growth in Europe was pretty weak in 3Q. Anything to call out there?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [41]

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Yes. Let me start with the second question there. I mean, yes, we were weaker than the overall light vehicle production in Europe in the third quarter. And that is, of course, contributed to mix issues and also that we had some platforms where we were coming off from end of production, and we're not matched with start of production with the same producer there. And we see this as just a temporary situation in Q3. So we expect to be back on track, so to speak, when we get into the fourth quarter supporting then the overall direction of the company when it comes to increasing our sales here. So a temporary mix question, you could say.

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [42]

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Yes. And then -- [Mikael], then in terms of Q4 sort of capture that in terms of commodity cost and raw materials. I mean we guided for the full year now at 60 bps. And I think if you do the math backwards because you know what we've communicated for the previous quarters, that would result in a slight -- a lower impact for the fourth quarter of around 20 bps or so for raw materials. So that should be an improvement compared to what -- where we've been in the previous quarters. So that's in addition to what Mikael already has said in terms of margin improvement fourth quarter over the third quarter.

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Unidentified Analyst, [43]

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And then on the launch cost and the FX?

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [44]

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FX, I mean, I think, we'll be relatively neutral. And in terms of launch cost, I mean, that has been an improvement throughout the year. And I think we showed that in the third quarter bridge already, and we expect that to continue in improvement compared to last year.

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Operator [45]

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Our next question comes from the line of Sascha Gommel from Jefferies.

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Sascha Sebastian Gommel, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [46]

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The first one would actually be on the cash flow. Maybe you can help me understand a little bit the explanation for the lower cash flow. Because my understanding is some of the costs you booked into your net income are noncash and are only a provision, and you also had $15 million separation costs in Q3 last year. So maybe you can help me a little bit understand the free cash flow swing year-on-year in context of what I just said.

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [47]

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Is that on the quarter? Or is that -- are you looking for the quarter purely?

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Sascha Sebastian Gommel, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [48]

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On the quarter, purely on the quarter.

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [49]

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So I think the big driver is really the earnings year-on-year.

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Sascha Sebastian Gommel, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [50]

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But your adjusted EBIT is only down $10 million. So how much of the -- or of the restructuring costs are already cash in the quarter?

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [51]

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Not much of cash in the quarter in terms of the shortage that we've taken. So I think, it's really the underlying EBIT sort of driven. And tax could be another component because I think tax was more negative in this quarter compared to last year driven by -- actually driven by the capacity alignment costs that we booked.

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Sascha Sebastian Gommel, Jefferies LLC, Research Division - Equity Analyst [52]

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Understood. Okay. And then my second question, just to confirm, your guidance includes 6 weeks of GM strike for the second half, so 2 in Q3 and 4 in Q4. Is that correct?

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Christian Hanke, Autoliv, Inc. - Interim CFO, VP & Corporate Controller [53]

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That's incorporated in our -- in what we have planned for the year.

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Operator [54]

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Our next question comes from the line of Rod Lache from Wolfe Research.

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Shreyas Patil, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [55]

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This is Shreyas Patil on for Rod. I just had a couple of quick questions. One, on the commodity side, you mentioned it's going to be a 60 basis point headwind for the full year. If we -- is there a way to think about how much of that is related to longer-term agreements that would likely reset at the end of this year? I'm thinking about steel for example. And how much is related to spot prices on some of your main commodities?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [56]

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Yes. I think as a general rule, you will say that I mean you can't really look at the spot prices at all because we very much of the raw material, or majority is really through our suppliers here. So we have a 6- to 9-month delay on the way up and on the way down. So that's what you're seeing here. And that's the absolutely majority on how the mechanics works when it comes to raw material for us. And as we have talked about before the big commodities for us here is steel and nylon. And that is what we are expecting to see that start to come off.

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Shreyas Patil, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [57]

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Okay. So basically, as -- if I look at prices now, or prices 6 to 9 months prior. That could give me a sense of how commodity costs will fluctuate.

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [58]

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Yes. I mean a rough feeling, I would say, because it's -- in practical terms, of course, it's more complicated because it is depending on when do you sign the contract from the beginning and so on. It probably will take long time to really map it up here. But I mean, conceptually, it is what you're saying, exactly. You can look and see there is a delay overall. But when you look at the details, it can be a little more complicated, but, yes.

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Shreyas Patil, Wolfe Research, LLC - Research Analyst [59]

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Okay. And then just last one. On R&D, you mentioned it was -- it looks like it was up a little bit year-over-year in the quarter. How should we be thinking about R&D longer term? I believe the prior guidance that was given back in 2018 was for R&D spending to decline by 2020. I'm just trying to think about where we are in context of that?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [60]

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Yes. I think I mean medium -- I mean long term -- medium to long-term range should be -- will be in 4% to 5% of sales. And we have said we should gradually start to see that coming down in relation to sales, not in absolute demand. But of course, now with the very sharp decline in the market, it affects that, of course. And I think under those circumstances, we are really scrutinizing and working hard with efficiency inside RD&E. So I think we are holding the line here because what we should remember also what had happened since we communicated this in '17, '18 there is that we are continuing to take good orders -- good order intake levels since then, building on our order book. So that also means that we are growing our activities here. So I will say, in absolute amount, we are holding the line here, and of course, in relation to sales, it becomes a little bit tougher but we're still committed to the medium- to long-term range of 4% to 5%.

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Operator [61]

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Our next question comes from the line of Brian Johnson from Barclays.

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Steven Michael Hempel, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [62]

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This is Steven Hempel on for Brian. Just a couple of questions here. In terms of sales outperformance either for the quarter or for the full year expectations of 6% to 7%, is there any way -- can you break that down roughly into kind of market share gains versus content growth? And then in terms of getting up to that 6 to 7 percentage points for the full year, how to think about that for the full year? And then also just thinking about that outperformance into 2019, do you expect that to continue? And then any kind of major headwinds or tailwinds we should think about?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [63]

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I don't think I can break it down for you here exactly on, okay, what is the different details here. But I mean, it's certainly so that we are taking market share for sure. And as we have indicated here, we -- I mean, we are -- first of all, we came from 38%, we moved up to 40% in market share in 2018. And we continue to increase that share in the years to come here and moving towards the mid-40s with what we see here in our order book. So that is what happening. And then, of course, overall growth is also a combination of content in the vehicles, as we talked about, that should be 1% CAGR or year-by-year here. So that, of course, is a component when you look at the total dollar amounts as well. But I think the important here is that the market share is increasing, and we see the underlying long term -- medium to long-term market also growing.

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Steven Michael Hempel, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [64]

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Okay. And then looking at Slide 3 here, in terms of the cost reduction, you're breaking it up by business cycle management versus structural efficiency. And within those 2 buckets, there's indirect headcounts being taken out by both. Just wondering if you could provide any color on the indirect headcount that's been taken out as part of the business cycle versus the structural efficiency?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [65]

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No. We expect what you see really on Page 4, the structural efficiency program, that is structural. So that is a long-term efficiency effect on that. So that is not -- you asked the question of business cycle management. So that is a structural change which we intend to capitalize on.

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Steven Michael Hempel, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [66]

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If you look at Slide 3, there's indirect headcount being taken out in both the business cycle as well as the structural efficiency. So just wondering what -- how to think about that indirect headcounts between those 2 different kind of programs or management programs?

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [67]

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No. I think the answer is still the same here that, I mean, we, of course, have the majority of also the business cycle management effects here staying as a part of the structural improvements that we expect to gain going forward here. So it's not automatically add-back, unless you have indirect headcount that actually is very close to operations that means that if we have a significant uptick, there might be some to be added back as a part of that. But otherwise it's strategically in the same bucket.

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Steven Michael Hempel, Barclays Bank PLC, Research Division - Research Analyst [68]

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Okay. So the overall structural efficiency program in the 5% kind of reduction, that's large -- that's basically independent upon volumes. If volumes are flat or down or up next year, that 5% number really isn't going to change much.

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Mikael Bratt, Autoliv, Inc. - President, CEO & Director [69]

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That's fully independent.

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Anders Trapp, Autoliv, Inc. - VP of IR [70]

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I think that we have to -- cannot take any more questions. We have to hard stop at 3:00, which has passed now. So we had it back to you, Carl.

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Operator [71]

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Sure, sir. Okay. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may all disconnect.