After lucrative 2011, Delphi Automotive looks to Asia for growth

Delphi Automotive (DLPH, quote) has stepped out from under the wing of General Motors (GM, quote), and its first set of post-IPO earnings reflects it. Profit nearly tripled in 2011, and revenue rose 7% thanks to rising global auto production and the company’s strong growth in Europe and Asia.

According to SEC documents filed February 17, net sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were $7.2 billion, a 23% gain over 2010. Sales in the Asia Pacific and South American regions also improved to $2.4 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively.

Delphi was the auto parts unit of General Motors until it was spun off in 1999, after which it struggled before filing for bankruptcy in 2005. The company used to be dependent on GM for a large part of its sales, but has reduced that relationship from about one-half of its business to one-fifth. North America as a whole is now only the second-most important part of Delphi’s business, accounting for $5.1 billion in sales in 2011.

Even Europe may not be top dog for long. In a Financial Times interview given after Delphi went public in November 2011, Chief Executive Rodney O’Neal was looking for new acquisitions to boost its Asia Pacific business. He was particularly interested in the power train, electrical and electronics sectors.

The parts market in Asia is burgeoning as the largest new automobile market in the world evolves into the largest used car market. Delphi’s moves into the region are likely to pay off very well in the long run.