The fourth-quarter earnings of the world's biggest parts suppliers, Delphi Automotive Systems and Visteon Automotive Systems, moved in opposite directions from their parent companies.
Delphi, suffering from lower sales in South America, posted a 20 percent decline to $280 million. Parent General Motors, meanwhile, recorded a record net of $1.77 billion, up 7.7 percent.
Visteon posted a net of $132 million, up 175 percent. But parent Ford Motor Co.'s net income dropped 42 percent to $1.04 billion, after an expected charge.
Delphi's revenues fell to $7.8 billion, compared with $8.1 billion for the year-ago period. Its net profit margin fell to 3.6 percent from 4.3 percent last year. The decline of profits at Delphi comes as GM prepares to spin off the unit this quarter.
Delphi, the world's largest auto supplier, also is recovering from declining Asian economies and from twin UAW strikes against GM last year. Some of its catch-up production has been made up with overtime pay expenses.
Voluntary early retirements at Delphi along with the costs of closing unprofitable joint ventures and underperforming assets resulted in a $192 million charge against GM's earnings.
Visteon's fourth-quarter revenues were $4.6 billion, up 4.5 percent from the $4.4 billion posted last year.
Other automotive suppliers posted mixed results:
Meritor Automotive Inc. of Troy, Mich., saw its earnings rise by 25 percent, driven by sales gains for light-vehicle products and strong demand for truck axles, brakes and transmissions. Net income for the quarter ended Dec. 31 rose 25 percent to $40 million. Sales rose 3.6 percent to $944 million.
The Eaton Automotive unit of Eaton Corp. posted sales of $505 million, up 12 percent from the year-ago period. It had $59 million in profits before restructuring charges of $5 million. A year earlier, Eaton Automotive netted $62 million before charges of $12 million.
Eaton's Cleveland-based parent, hurt by a $28 million operating loss in its semiconductor business, reported a 23 percent decline in earnings per share to $1.27 from last year's $1.66 per fully diluted share. Income before charges reached $91 million compared with last year's $129 million.
TRW Inc. reported fourth-quarter sales of $1.8 billion and net income of $147.7 million. Excluding a 1998 restructuring charge, the unit's results were essentially unchanged from the year-ago period.