PARIS - For his first half-year assessment as Valeo's CEO, Andr Navarri has made satisfactory progress.
For the January-June 2000 period, Valeo's sales grew by 15 percent to E4.49 billion, operating income by 23 percent to E299 million, and net income by 10 percent to E170 million.
Valeo can also rely on a comfortable net cash reserve of E460 million.
'It gives us the opportunity to consider external growth,' said Navarri during a July press conference in Paris. But he would not confirm any talks with French plastic maker Sommer-Allibert.
'Valeo must develop its cockpit business. There are a lot of opportunities,' Navarri said.
A few days later, Valeo announced a cockpit-module joint venture with Textron Automotive of the USA (see separate story).
'Valeo plans to speed up the pace of progress in the second half and achieve the operating margin target of 7 percent I have set,' Navarri said, referring to the operating margin/sales ratio of 6.7 percent Valeo achieved during the first half of the year.
One of Navarri's main concerns is Valeo's US operations. Sales in North America - including Mexico - make up 31 percent of the group's total.
'Regarding wiper systems and electric motors and actuators acquired from ITT Electrical Systems, the pace of improvement is inadequate,' said Navarri. Those businesses make up 10 percent of Valeo's turnover.
'The previous management ended up losing contracts for the new platforms launched by US carmakers. We knew that was the situation [when Valeo bought the ITT operations in summer 1998] and we will regain orders - but there is a delay,' said Navarri. 'We have to renew the product ranges, change the customer mix and restructure daily operations.'