Hungarian commercial vehicle group Raba warned on Friday it would make an operating loss in the fourth quarter, although company officials said it hoped to be back in profit next year, Reuters reported.

Reuters said the comments followed news on Friday that Raba's two main divisions would post a 1.5 billion forint ($US37.5 million) operating loss in the fourth quarter due to weak trading conditions and unfavourable currency movements.

The company, which began life over 100 years ago making carriages for the London Underground, produces axles, car and railcoach parts and special purpose vehicles.

Officials of the axle, car and train parts and special purpose vehicle maker told Reuters they expected next year's operating result to improve by 3.72 billion forints on 2002.

"I think we'll probably write the (2003 operating profit) figures in black ink," CFO Peter Lengyel said, according to Reuters.

Reuters said nine-month net sales fell to 30.56 billion forints from 40.8 billion a year earlier, and Raba posted an operating loss of 1.89 billion, down from a previous 1.26 billion forint profit.

According to Reuters, CEO Laszlo Steiner said the good news was that the company had managed to accomplish most of its restructuring this year, including this month's sale of an engine making plant, with a strong focus on core and strategic businesses.

Lengyel told Reuters that Raba's "public enemy number one" was a stronger forint - which has gained 15% since May 2001 though the news agency noted that most of the company’s sales are dollar-denominated.