Montupet SA was the top-performing supplier in the fourth quarter of 2004, with a 33 percent gain in share price.
Investors hailed the 2004 first-half results of the French maker of aluminum components, which showed a rise in operating profit and a fall in net debt. Shareholder value for the year was up 4.4 percent.
The improved stock performance in the fourth quarter follows Montupets restructuring of its plants in Mexico, Canada and the UK.
The companys operating margin rose by 1.6 percentage points from a year earlier to 7.6 percent at the end of June. Its net debt (debt minus cash balances) fell to 12 percent from 30 percent.
Montupet looks set to reach its objective of ending 2004 with zero debt, said analyst Vincent Courtois at French investment bank Fideuram Wargny. In October, Courtois raised his recommendation for the share from hold to buy.
Montupet is benefiting from the international expansion of its major French customers. It is building a E120 million plant in Romania to supply components such as cylinder heads to the Renault-Dacia factory, where the Logan family car for developing countries is built.
Courtois said he is confident that Montupets operating margin will improve further in 2005 and 2006 as the company increases its deliveries, notably of cylinder heads, to Renault and Chrysler.
Beru AG, which came fourth among suppliers with an 18.1 percent return, has been bought by Chicago-based BorgWarner Inc., a maker of turbochargers and other components for engines and drivetrains.
BorgWarner bought a 63 percent stake in Beru, a supplier of diesel cold-start and ignition technology, as well as electronics and sensors, from the founding family and the Carlyle equity fund.
US credit rating agency Standard and Poors has placed BorgWarner under credit watch, but it has also noted that the Beru acquisition will enhance BorgWarners diesel engine technology and further diversify its customer base and geographic presence.
In the first half ended September 30 2004, Beru reported a sales increase of 16.5 percent to E180 million and a rise in net income of 5.7 percent to E16.7 million.
Pressac came last with a 30.8 percent decline in shareholder value in the final quarter of 2004. For all of 2004, its shareholder value slumped 79.3 percent.
The Nottingham, England,-based injection molder of electronic components and decorative products for cars announced in December that an internal review had brought to light irregularities at its Brazilian subsidiary. This has prompted a reassessment of its accounts, which is expected to cut £1.1 million (about E1.6 million) from Pressacs 2004 profit.
In the first half of the year, Pressacs revenue edged up to £67.7 million from £65.5 million a year earlier. Its operating profit dropped 20.5 percent to £2.7 million.