Interior systems supplier Lear Corporation Lear posted net sales of $US3.8 billion, operating income of $246.8 million and net income of $118.0 million, or $1.76 per share for the fourth quarter of 2002.


In contrast, for the fourth quarter of 2001, Lear reported net sales of $3.4 billion, operating income of $68.6 million and net loss of $48.8 million, or $0.76 per share. Net sales and operating income for the fourth quarter rose 10% and 13%, respectively, compared with the year-ago adjusted results, reflecting higher vehicle production in North America, the addition of new business globally and a stronger euro, partially offset by lower Western European production and platform mix.


For the full year, Lear posted record net sales of $14.4 billion, up 6% from 2001, reflecting higher vehicle production in North America and the addition of new business globally, partially offset by lower production levels in Western Europe and South America and unfavourable mix. Reported operating income for 2002 was $743.1 million, and net income was $13.0 million, or $0.19 per share.


For the first quarter of 2003, Lear estimates net sales will be up 6% to 8% from the year-earlier period, reflecting the addition of new business and a stronger euro.  Higher industry production in North America is expected to offset lower industry production and unfavourable mix in Western Europe.


Lear expects earnings in the range of $0.90 to $1.00 per share, capital spending of approximately $100 million and free cash flow of approximately $50 million.


For the full year, Lear estimates net sales to be approximately $15 billion, compared with $14.4 billion in 2002.  The increase primarily reflects the addition of new business globally and a stronger Euro, partially offset by lower vehicle production in North America (16.0 million units versus 16.4 million units); Western Europe is expected to be essentially flat at around 16 million units.

Given this industry outlook and lowered tax rate, Lear expects earnings in the range of $5.20 to $5.40 per share.  Full year capital spending is forecast at approximately $300 million and free cash flow is estimated to be approximately $400 million.