PARIS (Feb. 11) — Groupe Michelin´s sales edged up 2.1 percent last year to $19.5 billion as volume grew 2.7 percent, but the firm said the strengthening euro-to-dollar exchange rate held the sales gain down by as much as $625 million.
Michelin did not disclose earnings with its 2004 sales figures but said it expects to report a "visible improvement" over 2003 in its operating performance when it releases an earnings statement on March 15.
The company said it offset recurring external inflationary pressures — including extraordinary raw material price hikes — through a firm pricing policy and an improved product mix. The firm said it gained market share in emerging markets and its targeted segments of high-performance and winter passenger, SUV, truck and earthmover tires.
In North America, Michelin said overall sales were stable compared with 2003 but that its Michelin and BFGoodrich brands strengthened their positions in the more profitable segments. Original equipment sales were down as part of the firm´s "focused growth" strategy.
On the truck side, Michelin outpaced North American aftermarket growth of 2.7 percent, but it trailed the market on the OE side, choosing not to keep pace with 32-percent market growth with OE customers in order to help satisfy replacement market demand.