TORONTO -- Decoma International Inc. reported a higher fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday, driven largely by stronger sales at North America's biggest automakers, but forecast 2003 vehicle production would decline on both sides of the Atlantic.
The maker of exterior car parts such as plastic bumpers and body panels said net income was $23.1 million, or 25 cents a share, in the quarter, up from $19.8 million, or 20 cents a share, in the same period a year earlier.
Six analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call expected Decoma to report earnings in a range of 24 cents to 30 cents a share with an average of 27 cents.
Sales were $528.2 million, up 13 percent from $466.4 million in the year-ago quarter.
The company, which is controlled by auto parts giant Magna International Inc., said vehicle production rose 3 percent in North America and 5 percent in Europe over the year-ago quarter.
Auto sales have soared over the past year, as carmakers have tried to lure buyers with low-interest financing and lucrative incentives.
Decoma's average content per vehicle climbed 13 percent to $90 in North America but slipped 3 percent to $30 in Europe.
The company also declared a fourth-quarter dividend of 6 cents per share to shareholders of record on March 3.
For the full year, net profit was $93 million, or $1.03 per share, while total sales were $2.06 billion.
Decoma said it expects 2003 full-year sales in a range of $2.05 billion to $2.2 billion, and earnings to be between 84 cents per share and $1.01 per share.
The company sees light-vehicle production falling 2 percent in North America and 1 percent in Europe, while Decoma's content per vehicle is expected to be in the range of $80 to $85 in North America and $35 to $40 in Europe.
"While we expect some weakness in vehicle production volumes this year, we will continue to focus on operating efficiencies and prudent financial management," Randy Smallbone, Decoma's CFO, said in a statement.