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Superior Warns Profit Will Fall Short of Forecasts

The maker of auto wheels says a drop in demand from Ford will weigh on results in the third quarter.

August 29, 2003|Ronald D. White | Times Staff Writer

Superior Industries International Inc. of Van Nuys, the world's second-largest maker of automotive wheels, warned Thursday that third-quarter profit would not meet forecasts, mostly because of reduced demand from Ford Motor Co.

Net income for the third quarter ending Sept. 30 will be an estimated 40 cents a share, the company said, down from the 60 cents previously forecast. Analysts had expected 63 cents. Superior's stock dropped $2.07, or 5%, to $42.75 on the New York Stock Exchange.

More than 80% of Superior's business comes from Ford and General Motors Corp., a reliance that has troubled some analysts. There have been production shutdowns of the Ford Taurus and Focus and the Mercury Sable this quarter, analysts said, and delays in the rollout of the new Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck.

Superior executives said the company's underpinnings were strong despite growing competition from overseas. Chief Financial Officer R. Jeffrey Ornstein said there was no need to change earnings guidance for the year of 89 cents a share. Officials emphasized that the firm is launching 25 wheels this year, more than twice the usual amount.

"We have a great vision for the future of Superior, not only in the wheel business but also as we continue to move forward in our component business," President and Chief Operating Officer Steven Borick said in a conference call with analysts and reporters. "We are looking at becoming more automated, and we're looking at a lot of new technologies for the facilities that are going to have some long-term and profound impacts on costs."

Superior has 1,000 employees in Van Nuys and 4,000 at other U.S. facilities, along with 1,500 in Mexico and 500 in Hungary. Company executives also said Thursday that they were looking into opening a plant in China.

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