Italian companies were some of the biggest winners in the automotive supplier sector. Fueled by takeover talks, design and engineering specialist Pininfarina recorded an 80.8 percent increase in shareholder value. It was followed by Italian filtration and suspension systems specialist Sogefi (+47.5 percent), Swiss-headquartered noise control and thermal insulation specialist Autoneum (+46.5 percent) and Italian brake systems specialist Brembo (+37.3 percent).
Pininfarina had a positive year, announcing sales rose 7 million euros to 87 million euros in 2014 and reduced net losses, down from 10.4 million euros in 2013 to 1.3 million euros. But the debt-burdened company's confirmation that it is in talks with Mahindra & Mahindra that could lead to a takeover by India’s largest maker of SUVs saw Pininfarina’s shares leap 26 percent in just one day at the end of March. The Italian firm's share price has virtually doubled since the start of the year.
Autoneum announced 2014 full-year results showing sales growth in almost all regions and a significant rise in net profit. Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin exceeded 10 percent for the first time. Profitability was attributed to enhanced capacity utilization at existing plants in Europe, expansion of vertical integration through in-house production of basic materials and higher production volumes in Asia.
Elsewhere in the parts sector performances were mixed, with most companies achieving double-digit percentage gains. At the bottom of the list were the French cylinder head manufacturer Montupet, up just 0.1 percent, and German gasket and plastic components manufacturer ElringKlinger, down 2.2 percent.
“Suppliers are clearly benefitting from the continuing increase in new-car demand, making them attractive for M&A activity,” Wakelam said.