Tier 1 auto supplier J.L. French has declared bankruptcy, stating that declining truck and SUV sales at GM and Ford have affected the company's ability to stay profitable. The privately-held company does around a half-billion dollars of business per year in cast aluminum products such as oil pans, engine front covers, and transmission cases. While the company posted pre-tax earnings of nearly $50M, it is said to have a total debt of somewhere north of $480M, and the bankruptcy filing was precipitated by a missed interest payment to bondholders.

The company will remain operational throughout restructuring, but I think sooner or later we're going to see a major supplier simply shut its doors and leave its customers in quite a bind. Consider this an underscore to the writing on the wall.



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