Montupet, the French aluminum components specialist, was the best performer among suppliers in the first quarter with a gain of 50.6 percent.
Investors praised the company's 2001 financial results. Montupet sales rose 15.8 percent to E470 million and net income climbed 3.19 percent to E12 million.
Shares are trading around E15.62 after idling for months at around E10. But they remain far from the heights achieved in early 1998, when they traded for as much as E50. Since then, Montupet spent E200 million to expand capacity, building plants in Mexico and Chantilly, north of Paris.
'Our investment program is finally bearing fruit,' said Chief Financial Officer Marc Majus.
Montupet is 36 percent owned by five of its executives, including Majus. They control the majority of voting rights, effectively preventing any hostile takeover.
Montupet produces cylinder heads and blocks, manifolds, aluminum wheels and brake parts. Its main clients are Renault, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Ford.
Majus ruled out any alliances.
He said: 'Small is beautiful.'
* GKN generated a shareholder return of 33.5 percent in the first quarter.
'GKN has benefited from a clearer strategy, following the spin off of its industrials division,' said Philip Wylie, head of the automotive team at Price-waterhouseCoopers Corporate Finance. 'It is now focusing on its core activities of automotive. GKN's constant velocity joints (CVJs) enjoy a market share of more than 40 percent.'
GKN paid £27.5 million (E44.9 million) for a one-third stake in the Japanese car components group Tochigi Fuji Sangyo. GKN has the option to grow its stake to 50.4 percent as part of a strategy to increase its presence in the Japanese market. In Japan, GKN is looking to boost sales of CVJs - joints between the transmission and axle.
These products accounted for sales of £1.8 billion in 2001. GKN sees this market expanding as increasingly popular four-wheel-drive cars require at least twice as many CVJs as conventional vehicles.
GKN's 2001 sales were £4.3 billion, an increase of 5 percent over 2000, with aerospace representing 34 percent of sales.
* By contrast, Wagon was the worst performer in the first quarter, with investors losing 18.5 percent of their capital. That's after the maker of body structures said it would not meet market expectations for the year ending March 31.
Wagon says its automotive sales have slowed. The UK supplier has cut costs, particularly at its plant in Waldaschaff, Germany. But it remains the second best performer over a 12-month period.
* Brembo was second worst in the quarter, with a negative return of 10.2 percent. The brake caliper and disc maker's revenue increased by 15.8 percent to E530.9 million in 2001, but net profit fell 1 percent from 2000 to E24.8 million.
Brembo's profits suffered from higher raw material prices in 2001, start-up costs on two new projects and a 30 percent increase in research and development expenditures. But analysts expect Brembo to improve this year and in 2003. They forecast production and sales increases of between 11 percent and 15 percent.