Week of April 24, 2000

April 24, 2000

VISTEON FREE AT LAST
FORD'S SWEET SIXTEEN
DAIMLERCHRYSLER MIXED BAG
IN-CAR PRODUCTIVITY PARTNERS
TOPLESS LEXUS
NISSAN'S BIG TRUCK
HONDA INCREASES INSIGHT AVAILABILITY
PREORDER PRIUS ONLINE
PORSCHE RECALLS 911C4
ANOTHER BID FOR ROVER
BMW AND MERCEDES-BENZ COMPACTS

 

VISTEON FREE AT LAST Ford Motor Company officially announced the long-anticipated independence plan for Visteon Corporation, as part of a broader plan for more consumer-focused business. Ford shareholders will receive 100 percent of Visteon shares under a distribution-ratio plan that will likely be based on Ford shares owned and Ford shares outstanding. Visteon, a leading producer of electronic automotive components, now has a yearly revenue of $19 billion. The Ford Board of Directors also approved a so-called Value Enhancement Plan, which will offer all shareholders new shares, and an option of $20 cash per share or additional shares of
equivalent value. Also of note, as part of a plan for greater consumer
focus, Ford announced that its joint aluminum-casting partnership will be expanded to include Canada's Windsor and Essex plants.

 

FORD'S SWEET SIXTEEN Ford Motor Company has again announced record earnings for the first quarter, of $2.1 billion or $1.70 per diluted share. This is Ford's sixteenth consecutive quarter with improved year-over-year operating results. Excluding now-independent Visteon, revenues were up 14 percent, to $43 billion, over those posted for the first quarter of 1999. Ford also posted record unit sales and a 21 percent
gain in automotive-operations earnings over those the same period a year
ago, to $1.6 billion.

 

DAIMLERCHRYSLER MIXED BAG DaimlerChrysler posted a 17 percent increase in revenues in the first-quarter, to $39.2 billion (based on the current Euro-Dollar exchange rate). Earnings per share were up in the first quarter, to $1.62, versus $1.57 in the first quarter last year. Operating profit was down 3 percent from the first quarter of 1999, to $2.4 billion. The Chrysler Group posted a 7 percent drop in operating profit (citing intense North American competition), while profits were up 11 percent at Mercedes-Benz. Later in the week, DaimlerChrysler shareholders voted yes to approve both a $2.3 billion dividend payout to shareholders and a plan for the company to acquire about ten percent of its outstanding capital stock. Some 12,500 shareholders attended the annual meeting in Berlin, where the vote was cast.

 

IN-CAR PRODUCTIVITY PARTNERS Delphi Automotive Systems Corporation and Palm Incorporated have announced an agreement that will lead to in-vehicle voice-recognition capability for Palm products. The first product of this partnership is the Communiport Mobile Productivity Center (MPC), a voice-recognition device that permits voice-based commands and data transfer. The MPC should mark the beginning of a full line of accessories based on multimedia technology. And although Delphi is first with such a system, the partnership agreement is nonexclusive, which means that more such products are on the way. Industry officials estimate that by 2005, half of all vehicles will have onboard communications and entertainment systems.

 

TOPLESS LEXUS Lexus has announced that it will begin building its first convertible next January for sale in March. The SC430, set to replace the slow-selling SC400 coupe, will have a retractable hardtop and the new 4.3-liter V-8 from the upcoming LS430. Toyota expects to sell about 10,000 SC430 convertibles per year.

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