Automotive parts maker Federal-Mogul Corp., which is reorganising under US bankruptcy protection, has posted a narrower quarterly net loss, helped by higher sales and lower Chapter 11 and other costs.

According to Reuters, the company, whose products include Champion spark plugs, Moog chassis, Fel-Pro gaskets and Wagner brakes and lighting, said market share gains helped offset pressure to lower prices from its customers and a fire that interrupted business at the company’s Smithville, Tennessee, aftermarket distribution facility.

Federal-Mogul, which expects to emerge from bankruptcy protection later this year or early in 2005, reported a first-quarter net loss of $20.4 million, compared with a net loss of $34.2 million a year ago, the news agency said, adding that sales from continuing operations rose to $1.55 billion from $1.37 billion, helped by market share gains in the replacement parts business and in brake products.

Federal-Mogul reportedly said a bankruptcy court hearing to review the company’s amended plan of reorganisation and disclosure statement was postponed and would be rescheduled for later in the second quarter.

Originally scheduled for last week, it was postponed to give the various creditor committees more time to work through details of the proposed plan, Chip McClure, the company’s chief executive and president, told Reuters.

The news agency noted that Southfield, Michigan-based Federal-Mogul filed for Chapter 11 protection in October 2001 after it was overwhelmed by asbestos lawsuits, having inherited the liability when it bought British piston maker T&N LLC in 1998 (T&N made building materials that led to the asbestos claims).

Reuters said that Federal-Mogul expects to emerge from bankruptcy under a reorganisation plan that includes a trust to pay existing and future asbestos claims.