KORTRIJK, Belgium (Feb. 23)—Steel cord maker Bekaert S.A.'s sales of "advanced wire products" rose 20.9 percent in fiscal 2004 over 2003, with strong demand for tire cord leading the way.
Bekaert's direct sales of wire products increased to $1.86 billion. Including the sales of joint ventures and affiliates, the gain was 21.3 percent to $3 billion. The firm did not disclose earnings.
The one weak spot for Bekaert last year was China, where government intervention to keep market growth in control resulted in only 1-percent growth for the company.
Bekaert said prices of steel rod—its main raw material—increased dramatically during the year, but it was able to recover most of this cost from customers through price increases.
Throughout the year, Bekaert inaugurated steel cord production at a plant in Prune, India, and doubled capacity at its Chinese venture in Shenyang. A new factory in Weihai, China—Bekaert's third in the nation—is due on stream this year.