UPDATED: 3/7/14 2:31 pm ET - adds details, correction, link
Aluminum wheel supplier Superior Industries International today said net income rose to $6.4 million in the fourth quarter, up from $2.7 million in the year-earlier period. Net income for the year fell to $22.8 million from $30.9 million.
In a statement, Superior said net income during the fourth quarter was trimmed by a $6 million provision for income taxes compared with a $2.6 million provision in 2012.
Net sales fell 8 percent to $192.5 million in the quarter compared with the year-ago period. Superior said the decline reflected reduced unit sales volume and reduced average sales prices driven by lower overall aluminum prices.
Despite the tax issue and lower sales, operating income still rose 124 percent to $11.9 million, up from $5.3 million in fourth quarter 2012.
The company said that profitability grew last year primarily because of "efficiency improvements at the company’s U.S. operations due to improved equipment reliability and process control, resulting from capital reinvestments, more robust maintenance programs and other improvements in manufacturing practices."
On a per-share basis, the company generated net income of 23 cents a share during the quarter, up from 10 cents a share in the year-earlier period.
Net sales for the year slipped 4 percent to $789.6 million.
Looking forward, CEO Steven Borick said the company's new plant being built Chihuahua, Mexico, will add "needed capacity, and enhance efficiencies."
"The project is on plan and scheduled for completion and initial testing by the end of this year, with commercial production anticipated for the first half of 2015,” Borick said in the company statement.
Separately, Superior said its board continues the search for a new CEO to replace Borick, who is retiring March 31. Borick announced his retirement as CEO on Oct. 14, 2013, but plans to remain chairman of the board.
Superior ranks No. 66 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 North American suppliers, with sales to automakers of $822 million in 2012.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect percentage for the gain in fourth-quarter operating income. The correct figure is 124 percent.
You can reach Sean Gagnier at email@example.com