Leading Canadian aftermarket automotive parts and supplies distributor Uni-Slect Inc. earned strongly higher fourth-quarter and yearly profits in 2002, largely as a result of its Western Canada joint venture and U.S. acquisitions. Net profits increased 18.5% to attain $24,082,000 or $1.33 per share compared to $20,326,000 or $1.13 per share in the previous year. Net profits for the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2002 reached $9,532,000 or $0.53 per share compared to $8,868,000 and $0.49 per share during the course of the fourth quarter of the preceding year. Sales in 2002 totalled $669,299,000, for an increase of 10.3% compared to sales of $606,956,000 realized in 2001. Sales totalled $160,422,000 in the fourth quarter of 2002, an increase of 19.6%, compared to $134,082,000 during the fourth quarter of 2001. The sales of Automotive Group Canada increased by 12.7% during the year largely due to the contribution of the joint venture USI-AGI Prairies Inc. created in February 2002. Sales for the group increased from $423,609,000 to $477,472,000. In the fourth quarter, sales for Automotive Group Canada increased by 25.5% to attain $111,503,000 compared to $88,845,000 for the corresponding period of the previous year. This increase is mainly attributable to two factors: the contribution of the joint venture and the change in the estimate of rebates earned by our merchant members which were offset by sales registered the first three quarters of the year. The operating margin of Automotive Group Canada was 7.1% compared to 8.4% in 2001. The joint venture was subject to integration expenses, implementation cost of the warehouse management system and bad debt charges. The Automotive Group USA increased by 3.2% to attain $135,767,000 in 2002 compared to $131,562,000 in 2001. This increase reflects the acquisitions concluded early in 2001, an advantageous exchange rate and organic growth. Sales of Automotive Group USA increased 5.4% in the fourth quarter to reach $32,651,000 compared to $30,964,000 for the same period in 2001. Organic growth for the fourth quarter excluding negative currency fluctuation would have been 10.2%. The group’s operating margin increased to 4.1% in 2002 compared to 3.2% in 2001 due to the decrease in general expenses. The sales of the Heavy Duty Group increased by 8.3% to reach $56,060,000 during 2002, compared to $51,785,000 in 2001. The Heavy Duty Group’s operating margin went from 1.1% in 2001 to 3.0% in 2002. This improvement results from the continuous profit improvement program initiated at the end of 2000. “We are pleased to report results on line with the historical trend of Uni-Select, leading to a new high in sales and net profits. The outlook is favourable for our industry,” said Jacques Landreville, president and chief executive officer of Uni-Select. Finally, the Board of Directors of Uni-Select declared a quarterly dividend of $0.067 per common share payable on April 21, 2003 to shareholders of record as at March 31, 2003.