Lear Corporation (NYSE: LEA - news), the world's fifth-largest automotive supplier, today reported record financial performance for the third quarter of 2000. Net sales of $3.1 billion, operating income of $157.8 million and earnings of $.59 per share are all third-quarter records for the company.

"Our third-quarter record results were very solid," stated Bob Rossiter, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lear Corporation. "The Lear team remains focused on our customers and generating consistent organic growth. Our $3.5 billion backlog of new business reflects more than $1.0 billion in business awarded within the last year. Additionally, we continued to manage our cash flow effectively and expect to deliver more than $300 million in free cash flow this year."

Earnings per share in the quarter increased 2 percent to $.59, versus $.58 in the third quarter of 1999, as the benefit of new program sales and a lower number of average shares outstanding offset the impact of the weaker European currencies, divestitures and lower production levels. Operating income for the third quarter of 2000 increased 4 percent to $157.8 million, from $151.7 million in the same quarter of 1999.

Net sales for the quarter rose 3 percent to $3.1 billion, from $3.0 billion in last year's third quarter. Excluding the impact of the weak Euro and other foreign currencies and divestitures, sales would have been 8 percent higher. The increase was attributable to strong internal growth as well as increasing content on existing programs.

During the quarter, sales in the U.S. and Canada increased $13 million to $1.929 billion, from $1.916 billion in the third quarter of 1999. In Europe, sales were down $50 million to $870 million, as weaker European currencies caused sales to be $114 million lower due to currency translation. Sales in other world regions increased $134 million to $345 million.

Net income, excluding non-recurring items, for the nine months ended September 30, 2000, increased 15 percent to a record $189.3 million, or $2.85 per share, compared with earnings of $164.4 million, or $2.42 per share, in the comparable 1999 period. Operating income for the first nine months of 2000 advanced 29 percent to $597.0 million, from $462.9 million in last year's comparable period.

Net sales for the same period rose $1.743 billion, or 19 percent, to a record $10.711 billion from $8.968 billion in 1999. Sales in the U.S. and Canada increased $1.019 billion to $6.617 billion. European sales increased $314 million to $3.109 billion, and sales in the rest of the world increased $410 million to $985 million.

Lear Corporation, a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Southfield, Mich., USA, focuses on automotive interiors and electronics and is the world's fifth-largest automotive supplier. Sales in 1999 were $12.4 billion. The company's world-class products are designed, engineered and manufactured by more than 120,000 employees in over 300 facilities located in 33 countries. Information about Lear and its products is available on the Internet at www.lear.com.