Vehicle exterior component specialist Decoma International expects an operating loss for the fourth quarter of 2004 in the range of $US27 million to $29 million compared to income of $18.5 million for the fourth quarter of 2003.

In a statement the company said this was due to the impact of approximately $US37 million of other charges related to the Anotech consolidation plan in North America (approximately $18 million) and the Prometall and Decotrim impairment charges in Europe (approximately $19 million).

For full year 2004, operating income is expected to be in the range of $69 million to $71 million compared to $150.8 million for 2003.

Comparative operating income for the fourth quarter of 2003 included $23.8 million of other charges in Europe as a result of the company's continental Europe paint capacity consolidation plan and United Kingdom impairment charges.

Excluding other charges, operating income is expected to be in the range of $8 million to $10 million in the fourth quarter of 2004 compared to $42.3 million in the fourth quarter of 2003.

The majority of the expected decline relates to the company's European segment which incurred significant operating losses in the fourth quarter of 2004.

Excluding other charges, operating income for the full year 2004 is expected to be in the range of $105 million to $107 million compared to $174.6 million in 2003.

Decoma expects total sales for the fourth quarter of 2004 to be in the range of $690 million to $700 million compared to $646 million for the fourth quarter of 2003. For the full year 2004, total sales are expected to be in the range of $2,680 million to $2,690 million compared to $2,356 million for 2003.

Decoma expects future results to be affected by losses at Belplas, and to a reduced extent at Decotrim and Prometall, and by continued competitive pricing pressures and raw material cost increases. The first half of 2005 is also expected to be negatively affected by increased costs at Decostar as it launches and ramps up various Mercedes programmes.

However, in the latter part of 2005, the company expects to begin to see benefits from the Anotech and continental Europe paint capacity consolidated plans as well as other improvements in Europe and at Decostar once production has ramped up.