Auto parts makers’ combined sales rose 4.5 percent to 9.768 trillion yen on a consolidated basis in the 1999 business year, the Japan Auto Parts Association said Wednesday.

Combined operating profit grew 31.4 percent to 434.9 billion yen.

The sales and profit gains stemmed from an increase in auto exports, especially to the United States, and brisk domestic sales of minivehicles, which more than offset the adverse effects of the yen’s appreciation, the association said.

Combined net profit, however, dropped 30.3 percent to 76.6 billion yen, partly because many companies used net profits to cover reserve shortages for future payment of retirement allowances.

The association analyzed earnings at 69 listed auto-parts makers that had released their fiscal 1999 consolidated results by last Friday. Auto parts account for more than 50 percent of their total sales.

Tenneco ups profile

Tenneco Automotive Inc. announced Wednesday that the American auto-parts maker has formed business alliances with two Japanese auto-parts manufacturers to raise its presence in Japan.

The Illinois-based company will cooperate with Tokico Ltd., based in Kanagawa Prefecture, to design and manufacture automotive shock absorbers and suspension struts. The two firms may set up joint ventures in the future, officials of the two firms said.

Tim Jackson, a senior vice president and general manager at Tenneco, said his firm expects an annual increase in revenues of between 6 percent and 10 percent through the alliance with Tokico.

Tenneco also announced a business alliance with Aichi Prefecture-based Futaba Industrial Co., which includes a joint venture to manufacture exhaust and stamped products in Burnley, Britain.

Products manufactured at the British factory will be provided to Japanese carmakers that make vehicles in Europe, company officials said.