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Cooper Standard completes busy month

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Jeffrey Edwards, chairman and CEO of Cooper Standard
Jeffrey Edwards, chairman and CEO of Cooper Standard, said the firm experienced growth of more than 1.5 times the market and aggressively addressed operational challenges in 2014. Sales and net income both increased for the year.

NOVI, Mich.—Cooper Standard Holdings Inc. has had a busy February.

The parent company of Cooper Standard Automotive Inc. will downsize its operations in Goldsboro, N.C., consolidating from two manufacturing facilities into one. It said the move will affect 300 employees.

Amid this, the firm also released its 2014 financials, reporting a 5 percent increase in sales and net income that held relatively steady compared to 2013.

Cooper Standard also finalized its acquisition of Huayu Automotive System Co.'s share in the firm's Chinese joint venture—Huayu-Cooper Standard Sealing Systems Co. Ltd.—becoming the majority owner with a 95 percent equity.

Cooper Standard's 207,000-sq.-ft. facility at Woodland Church Road in Goldsboro primarily will be consolidated into its 167,000-sq.-ft. facility at Fedelon Trail Road, but the firm said some production will be relocated to other North American locations. The transition began in February and is projected to be complete in late 2015 or early 2016.

Once complete, the Fedelon Trail facility—which will continue to produce Cooper Standard's sealing systems—will employ 400 and will be refurbished to accommodate the added business. The Woodland Church facility will be used for warehouse space.

Cooper Standard declined further comment on its downsizing project in North Carolina.

Overall growth

Despite a slight decline for the fourth quarter, Cooper Standard's sales for 2014 were reported at $3.24 billion, up from $3.09 billion in 2013. Sales dropped to $767.9 million from $794.2 million in 2013 for the quarter.

Net income declined 10.6 percent for 2014 to $42.8 million. The firm reported a net loss for the fourth quarter of $12.8 million, but that was an increase compared to a net loss of $20.8 million in 2013.

“Cooper Standard's continued to grow year-over-year in 2014, more than 1.5 times the market,” Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Edwards said during a conference call on Feb. 24. “We aggressively addressed operational challenges, which resulted in improved adjusted EBITDA margins by 200 basis points in the fourth quarter 2014.”

Allen Campbell, executive vice president and chief infrastructure officer—a position he assumed March 1 after serving as chief financial officer since 2004—said net income for the year included an $18.9 million after-tax cost in conjunction with its debt extinguishment during the second quarter of 2014.

Edwards also highlighted the firm's improved margins in its sealing business, which accounted for 52 percent of its sales. Fuel and brake accounted for 20 percent of sales, fluid transfer systems accounted for 14 percent of sales, and anti-vibration systems accounted for 8 percent of sales.

The remaining 6 percent of sales came from Cooper Standard's non-automotive lines and its thermal and emissions business. The latter was divested to Halla Visteon Climate Control Corp. for $46 million in June 2014.

Sales for 2014 increased in all regions except South America, which dropped 10.7 percent to $158 million from $177 million. North America increased to about $1.7 billion from $1.62 billion, Europe rose to about $1.14 billion from about $1.08 billion, and Asia-Pacific grew to $249 million from $220 million.

For the fourth quarter, North American sales decreased to $401 million from $426 million. Sales in Europe and South America also decreased to $259 million and $36 million from $270 million and $38 million, respectively. Sales in Asia-Pacific increased to $72 million from $60 million.

Campbell said production units of the Ford F-150 were down 25,000 compared to 2013, which had a significant impact on the firm's fourth quarter sales. The Ford F-150 contains all four of Cooper Standard's core product lines and is the firm's No. 1 platform, accounting for $440 million in sales.

Largest in China

Now that Cooper Standard is the 95 percent equity owner of its Chinese joint venture—with 5 percent retained by the Shanghai Zhaotun Collective Assets Managing Co.—the firm said it becomes the largest automotive sealing manufacturer in the Chinese market with nine manufacturing facilities and two technical centers, including its recently opened Asia-Pacific Technical Center and headquarters in Shanghai.

“The completion of this purchase further solidifies Cooper Standard's role as the leading sealing systems supplier in the global automotive industry,” Edwards said in a statement.

“Our expanded presence in China is a key element of our profitable growth strategy and allows the company to fully support our customers on global platforms and capitalize on growth opportunities in the region,” he added.

Headquartered in Novi, Cooper Standard is a global supplier of systems and components for the automotive industry, with its core product lines including sealing and trim, fuel and brake delivery, fluid transfer, and anti-vibration systems. The firm employs more than 27,000 with operations in 20 countries.