Gentex Corporation, the Michigan-based manufacturer of automatic-dimming rearview mirrors, has reported a 2% increase in revenues to a record $US126.2 million for the quarter ended December 31, 2004. However, Q4 net income declined 2% to $28.6 million compared with $29.1 million in the fourth quarter last year.

Earnings per diluted share were 37 cents in both fourth quarter periods.

For calendar year 2004, Gentex reported an 8% increase in revenues to a record $505.7 million while net income increased 6% year on year to $112.7 million. Earnings per diluted share were $1.44 compared with $1.37 in 2003.

"Despite another challenging quarter, there is evidence of improvement on the margin side, as we have largely resolved the start-up production issues associated with new manufacturing processes that we began in the third quarter of 2004," said Gentex executive vice president Garth Deur.

In a statement, Gentex said light vehicle production declines in North America contributed to the continued weakness during the fourth quarter. While it reported a 7% overall increase in auto-dimming mirror unit shipments, the growth came from a 17% unit shipment increase to overseas customers. Mirror unit shipments to customers in North America declined 2%, as light vehicle production in that region declined 3%.

Deur said he believes that auto-dimming mirror unit shipments will be flat to 5% higher in Q1 2005 compared with 2004, and that mirror unit shipments will increase approximately 10% for calendar year 2005 compared with 2004. These estimates are based on light vehicle production forecasts in the regions to which the company ships product, as well as the expected option rates for its mirrors on upcoming vehicle models.

Gentex has begun using the light vehicle production forecasting services of CSM Worldwide, and CSM's current forecasts for light vehicle production for calendar 2005 are approximately 15.9 million units for North America, 20.5 million for Europe and 13.1 million for Japan and Korea.

For the first quarter of 2005, CSM is forecasting light vehicle production of 4.0 million units in North America, 5.2 million units in Europe and 3.5 million units in Japan and Korea.

Automotive revenues increased by 2%to $121.0 million in the fourth quarter and by 8% to $483.2 million for calendar year 2004 compared with the same periods last year.

Auto-dimming mirror unit shipments to customers in North America declined by 2%in the fourth quarter and increased by 3% full year 2004 compared with 2003. North American light vehicle production declined 3% in Q4 and declined 1% for full year 2004 compared with 2003.

Unit shipments to overseas customers increased 17% in Q4 and 26% for calendar year 2004. The higher growth in offshore unit shipments was primarily attributable to increased vehicle penetration in the European and Asia-Pacific regions.

Light vehicle production in Western Europe declined 5% in Q4 and by 1% for full year 2004.

Total auto-dimming mirror unit shipments in the fourth quarter were approximately 2.9 million, a 7% increase over the same period last year. For calendar year 2004, total unit shipments reached a record 11.6 million, a 13% increase over the previous year.