By Rhoda Miel, Plastics News Staff
Southfield, Michigan -- Auto seating and electronics supplier Lear Corp. finished 2010 with a boost in both sales and earnings, and said it expects its current global strategy will bring it even more business in 2011.
While Matt Simoncini, senior vice president and chief financial officer for Southfield-based Lear said the company is seeing improvements based on its vertical manufacturing strategy, it is also considering other options.
"If we had the opportunity to invest in a niche acquisition that would provide us with capabilities in niche markets, we would absolutely consider it," Simoncini said in a 1 Feb conference call with analysts. "We don't need it for the scale, but we are considering the possibilities."
Lear posted sales of more than $12 000 million in 2010, up 23 percent from 2009. It also had net income of $438 million.
The company expects to see a 3-percent increase in sales for 2011, with growth from a recovery North American auto market and increases in China, India and Russia.
Simoncini said Lear's business strategy of increasing its capabilities in vertical integration -- able to produce complete seats and electronics -- has allowed it to cut production costs and take advantage of better designs.
"You control the design capability and that works as a way to bring the cost point down," he said.
Lear did see unexpected costs in 2010 from raw material price increases for steel and copper, and in Tunisia, where its wiring plant in Bir El Bey saw some disruption during the political protests that led to a change in government, Simoncini said. Conditions have settled since the start of 2011, Simoncini said.