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Published on September 5, 2005

Industry sales rise 15%, Michelin keeps top ranking

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Date Published September 5, 2005

Global tire industry sales jumped 15 percent in 2004, fueled by higher volume and prices and currency exchange changes, after several years of steady but restrained growth.

Estimated total sales by the world's tire manufacturers last year climbed to $92 billion, based on figures obtained by Rubber & Plastics News. The business now has a dozen billion-dollar companies, one more than last year, and they account for nearly 81 percent of the world tire revenues.

France's Groupe Michelin remained at the top of the global rankings for the fourth straight year with $17.9 billion in sales, about $1 billion ahead of Japan's Bridgestone Corp.

Michelin's sales grew 2 percent, and Bridgestone's 5 percent.

That gap would be closer if Bridgestone's 40-percent share of Turkey's Brisa Bridgestone Sabanci Tire Mfg. was included in the Japanese company's total. Brisa is ranked 26th on its own with sales of $375.6 million.

No. 3 Goodyear reported 21-percent growth last year to $15.2 billion. About $1.2 billion of that increase came from the first-time inclusion of sales by its South Pacific Tyres Ltd. and T&WA Inc. original equipment tire-wheel mounting joint ventures.

No changes through No. 11

The rankings are unchanged through No. 11 from the 2004 list-Continental A.G. at No. 4 followed by Pirelli S.p.A., Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd., Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co., Hankook Tire Co. Ltd., Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. and Kumho Tire Co. Inc.-but with South Korea's Hankook and Kumho challenging Cooper and Toyo, respectively, for the Nos. 9 and 11 slots.

Both Hankook's and Kumho's Chinese subsidiaries are growing rapidly and contributing greater shares to their respective parent firms' annual sales.

Moving up to 12th this year is Grandtour Tyre Pte. Ltd., the Singaporean holding company for six separate Chinese tire makers, whose collective sales topped $1 billion for the first time.

Grandtour leapfrogged over Taiwan's Cheng Shin/Maxxis International despite Maxxis' 30-plus-percent growth to $983.8 million as its Chinese subsidiary companies started to contribute more significantly to the bottom line.

China's Triangle Group Co. Ltd. slipped to 14th from 12th despite growing nearly 20 percent itself to $910.9 million.

The rankings are based on tire sales only. Revenue from automotive service or tire brands other than a manufacturer's own are excluded. Bridgestone, for example, generates more than $2 billion in revenue annually from its captive retail activities in the Americas and Japan.

The average revenue per employee for 15 of the largest publicly traded tire makers grew 12.5 percent to $198,254. The averages ranged from $75,333 for India's MRF Ltd. to $393,821 for Toyo.

The top 75 comprises companies from 28 nations, including 19 from China, eight each from the U.S. and India, and five each from Japan and Taiwan.

Ten of the 15 publicly traded companies listed had higher operating earnings last year. The average operating income for the 15 manufacturers-all ranked among the top 20-was 6.7 percent, up slightly from the 2003 average.

Nokian Tyres P.L.C. was the earnings leader in 2004, reporting an operating earnings/sales ratio of 18 percent. Others in the double-digit range were Hankook (13.1 percent) and Cheng Shin/Maxxis International (12.9 percent).

Newcomers to the list

Eight manufacturers entered the Top 75 for the first time this year, led by Moscow-based Sibur-Russkie Shiny at No. 21 with sales of $470 million. The petrochemical conglomerate includes the sales of tire makers Omskshina, Yaroslavl Tyre Co., Voltyre and Ural Tyres, the first two of which were ranked on their own accord last year.

Others debuting are:

* South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. of China-also known as Guangzhou South China Tire & Rubber-No. 33 with sales of $309.2 million;

* Loadstar Pvt. Ltd./Solideal Co. of Sri Lanka, No. 57, based on 2003 sales of $85 million;

* Balkrishna Industries Ltd. of India, No. 58 with $82.7 million;

* Beijing Shouchuang Tyre Co. Ltd. of China, No. 61, with sales of $77.2 million;

* Xuzhou Tyre Group Corp. of China, No. 66 with sales of 67.8 million;

* Xinjiang Kunlun Tire Co. Ltd. of China, No. 72 with sales of $49.9 million; and

* Changchun Tire Co. Ltd. of China, No. 74 with sales of $44 million.