Shares of


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jumped 28% Thursday after one of its competitors' executives agreed to join the auto parts maker.

The company said Wednesday that Donald Stebbins, a former executive at


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, agreed to serve as its chief operating officer. KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Brett Hoselton upgraded the stock on the news, saying the apointment lends precious credibility to the struggling company.

"Given that Stebbins is in the early stages of a very good career at Lear, we believe he would have to be persuaded that negotiations with


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and the United Auto Workers were going to yield positive results before he was willing to join the company," Hoselton wrote in a research note.

He upgraded the stock to buy from hold. It rose $1.08 to $4.90 in late trading.

Stebbins, 47, joined Lear in 1992 and rose to president and chief operating officer of its operations in Europe, Asia and Africa. He will replace Mike Johnston at Visteon, who was chief operating officer until July 2004 and is now president, chairman and chief executive. Johnston plans to hand over the title of president on June 1, the company said.

Visteon has been pummeled by difficulties suffered by Ford, its largest customer, in the auto market, where foreign competition has been stealing market share from domestic manufacturers at a rate that has surprised investors in 2005. Last month it reported a first-quarter loss of $188 million, or $1.49 a share, down from earnings of $20 million, or 16 cents a share, recorded in the same quarter last year.

Furthermore, the company recently revealed it is investigating potentially improper accounting transactions in its North American purchasing division involving around $31 million in freight and materials expenses.