DETROIT - Visteon Auto-motive Systems has taken its first baby steps out of the shadow of its corporate parent.
Last week, Ford Motor Co.'s newly reorganized parts division said its net income totaled $518 million last year, on sales of $17.2 billion. Visteon's profit margin was 3 percent - just behind the 3.3 percent posted by General Motors' parts group, Delphi Auto-motive Systems.
For the first three months of 1998, Visteon reported net income of $189 million, up 30 percent from the same period a year earlier, when the business was known as Ford Automotive Products Opera-tions. Visteon's first financial statement is meant to make it accountable as a stand-alone supplier. Ford wants its parts division to be more entrepreneurial, generating more sales to non-Ford automakers. Last week, Visteon said non-Ford customers account for 9 percent of sales. The division wants to raise that figure to 20 percent by 2002. North America accounted for 81 percent of Visteon sales, while Europe accounted for 15 percent and other regions totaled 4 percent.
Financial analysts predict Ford will consider spinning off its parts unit in a few years. General Motors, meanwhile, is expected to offer investors a 20 percent stake in Delphi within the next year or so.
Last week, Visteon executives downplayed speculation about a spin-off.
Said Visteon Chairman Ed Hagenlocker: 'We have no plans at this time to spin off Visteon.'