Components maker Valeo has reported a loss in the fourth quarter of EUR417 million and a full year 2001 loss of EUR591 million. In 2000 the company made a profit of EUR368 million.

The figures show a sharp deterioration on previous year performance, but the company attributes part of the decline to restructuring measures taken last year. The results were broadly in line with analysts estimates.

Valeo reported that total sales exceeded EUR10.2 billion in 2001, but at constant reporting entity and exchange rates, group sales were down 1.8% while global automotive production volumes shrank by an estimated 3%.

The company's financial performance has worsened most notably in North America, where Valeo's sales were down 14% in 2001. In December, Valeo filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for its loss-making US subsidiary.

The company said in a statement that European sales increased by 4% and that it increased share. Valeo's Asian business saw a 1% drop in sales.

Valeo's restructuring plans for Europe and the Americas require a headcount reduction of 5,000 (on a 70,000 base).

The company claims that it will improve profitability through 2002 in spite of weak demand conditions, as costs fall through restructuring measures.

In a statement, Thierry Morin, Chairman of the Management Board, declared: "Valeo has been proactive in anticipating the downturn in the automotive market. The fourth quarter has confirmed that our strategy is appropriate: despite difficult conditions, we have recorded a third consecutive quarter of improvement. We will continue to strengthen in 2002 and will emerge from the market downturn as a leading high-technology cost-competitive automotive supplier."