Dana Holding Corporation on Wednesday reported a net loss of $431m for full year 2009, an improvement of $291m compared to the 2008 result, after excluding a one-time gain of $754m in 2008 recognised in connection with the application of fresh start accounting.  The result included Q4 after tax charges of $153m related to the planned sale of the structural products business to Metalsa.

The supplier of axles, driveshafts and structural, sealing, and thermal management products said it made operating improvements worth over $500m from better margins, cost reductions and other factors which largely offset lower profits resulting from a 35% decline in full year sales which was due to substantially lower industry production volumes in 2009. Adjusted EBITDA was $326m, down $23m compared to 2008. Full-year 2009 sales were $5,228m, down $2,867m from the prior year.

Dana said it “significantly improved” margins over 2008, despite the reduced production volumes last year.  Fourth-quarter 2009 adjusted EBITDA margin was 7.7%, compared with fourth quarter 2008 adjusted EBITDA of 0.3%. Cost reductions contributed about $300m to the full year improvement.

At 31 December, the cash position was up $170m to $947m; total liquidity improved $215m to $1,094m and total debt reduced by $248m to $1,003m with net debt down $418m to $56m, compared to the previous year.

“In spite of a substantial downturn in our markets, [we] delivered solid cash generation and vital cost reductions and margin improvements,” said Dana president and CEO Jim Sweetnam. “These achievements helped dampen the negative impacts of the broader marketplace and provide a solid base for improvement in 2010.

“Much more work lies ahead, but as we begin to see modest increases in vehicle production across our segments and regions, we also see opportunities to take advantage of our improving competitive position and renewed focus on product development.”

Q4 sales were $1,493m compared with $1,521m in 2008.  Fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA was $115m versus $4m reported for the final three months of 2008.

The Q4 net loss fell to $236m from $249m in Q4 2008, despite the inclusion of the net charges of $153m associated with the anticipated sale of the structures business.