Delphi held on as the world’s largest automotive supplier in 2003, but Denso was the most profitable among major Tier 1 companies and Bosch was the fastest growing.

Most managed to report sales slightly above expectations. Bosch was second in automotive sales to Delphi, and second in pre-tax profits to Denso. Bosch was helped by effects of currency translation since the rankings are in US dollars. Here is a look at the major suppliers’ pre-tax results.


The Japanese supplier was the most profitable in terms of total pre-tax profits in 2003. Denso’s pre-tax margin was 7.1% on sales of $US18.8 billion in the year to March 31st 2003.

Denso expects strong growth in the year to March 31. The company predicts sales of 2.440 trillion yen, equivalent to $22.8 billion at the year-end’s exchange rate of 107 yen to the dollar.


Sales came in stronger than expected in the final quarter of 2003. estimates that automotive sales for the year were $27.5 billion.

The better than expected result includes a $200 million currency exchange improvement.

The supplier’s total revenue for commercial vehicles & new markets was approximately $1.3 billion, nearly 60% above 2002.

Delphi reported “strong growth trends out of China”, but “weaker production schedules than anticipated among some North American customers” due to year-end inventory positions.

Pre-tax income fell 40% to $471 million for 2003. But exceptional charges for restructuring pushed Delphi into an overall pre-tax loss.

Delphi expects sales of $7.2-7.4 billion in the first quarter of 2004, slightly higher than the $7.182 billion reported in the first quarter of 2003.


Automotive sales in 2003 were 1% up in euro terms, despite being negatively affected by the strength of the euro. At constant exchange rates, growth would have been 8%.

Bosch’s sales in China rose 20% in 2003 in euro terms.

The German supplier made good progress towards its target of a 7% pre-tax return, says CEO Franz Fehrenbach, with automotive technology showing improved performance.

Bosch does not specify profitability by sector, but the company said pre-tax profits were just under 5% of sales in 2003.

Traditionally, margins at Bosch’s automotive technology division have been below the group average, so estimates that pre-tax income for the sector was about $1 billion in 2003.

Bosch expects the automotive technology sector to show “a marked upswing” in 2004, as global automotive industry growth reaches 4%, compared with 2003.


The former Ford components division reported sales of $17.7 billion in 2003 – a drop of 4.2%. Pre-tax special charges of $749 million combined with operating losses to produce a total pre-tax loss of $1.15 billion – underlining the challenge faced by the company.

However the outlook on the sales side is a little better for 2004. Visteon expects sales to be between $4.8 billion and $4.9 billion in the first quarter. The US supplier reported sales of $4.7 billion in the first quarter of 2003.

Johnson Controls and Lear

The US interiors supplier was the third most profitable in pre-tax profits after Denso and Bosch in 2003. The results shown for Johnson Controls are for the 2003 financial year, which ended September 31.

Johnson Controls expects margins to be roughly stable in its 2004 financial year, based on an improved European interiors’ performance.

Lear Corp. sales finished at $15.75 billion, up 9% over the year before. Lear expects sales to grow to around $16.2 billion in 2004.