ArvinMeritor posts Q4 loss, sees flat Q1

Autoparts manufacturer ArvinMeritor Inc posted a fiscal fourth-quarter net loss versus a profit last year, hurt by restructuring charges and auto production cutbacks amid the weak U.S. economy. The Troy, Michigan-based company reported a net loss of $6 million, or 9 cents per diluted share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with net income of $29 million, or 43 cents a share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding special items, the company earned $23 million, or 23 cents per share, compared with $46 million, or 43 cents last year. Sales fell 7 percent, to $1.6 billion from $1.7 billion last year.After the company pre-announced on Sept. 27 fourth-quarter earnings of 20 cents to 25 cents per share, analysts forecast it would earn between 20 cents to 23 cents per share, with an average estimate of 21 cents, according to 12 brokers surveyed by research firm Thomson Financial/First Call.Looking ahead, the company said it expects first-quarter 2002 results will be "comparable" to the fourth quarter's numbers, resulting in earnings from 20 cents to 25 cents per diluted share. It also said it will take a first-quarter restructuring charge of $15 million related to employee severance benefits."We expect the North American commercial truck and trailer markets to continue to soften during our fiscal year 2002," said Chief Executive Larry Yost in a statement. "As a result, we expect fiscal year 2002 consolidated sales to be down about 4 percent from fiscal 2001." He also forecast diluted earnings of $1.40 to $1.60 per share for fiscal 2002.ArvinMeritor shares ended Wednesday up 5 percent, or 76 cents, at $16.01 on the New York Stock Exchange. Its share price has gained about 41 percent so far this year, compared to a 14 percent drop in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.

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