UPDATE 1-European demand drives Magna International's profit beat

(Adds details on results, compares with estimates)

Feb 22 (Reuters) - Canadian auto parts maker Magna International Inc on Thursday posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by higher production sales in Europe.

Car registrations in the European Union rose 3.4 percent in 2017 to more than 15 million vehicles for the first time since 2007. (http://reut.rs/2EKQiih)

On Thursday, Magna reported a 23 percent rise in European external production sales helped by the launch of the BMW 5-Series, Ford Fiesta and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

That helped limit the impact of a 5 percent drop in North America vehicle production volumes.

The Aurora, Ontario-based company's sales rose to $10.39 billion from $9.25 billion.

Net income attributable to Magna rose to $556 million, or $1.53 per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from $478 million, or $1.24 per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned $1.57 per share, beating analysts' average estimate by 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. (Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal and Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)