PARIS (Oct. 25) — Michelin reported 4.9-percent sales growth in the third quarter on higher selling prices worldwide and increased unit sales in Europe and Asia.
By contrast, business in North America continued to lag behind 2005 as replacement tire demand was sluggish across the board and passenger original equipment shipments slumped as well, Michelin said.
The firm did not report earnings at this time but did say it expects its operating margin before non-recurring items to be close to 8 percent for the full year, about on par with last year.
Sales for the three months ended Sept. 30 hit $5.08 billion on 2.2-percent larger volume and a 4.1-percent boost from better pricing and product mix. Exchange rate differences offset the sales gains to a degree. Sales for the nine months were up 5.1 percent to $15.1 billion.
Although North American replacement passenger and light truck tire demand remained weak, Michelin said it monitored a slight improvement in September, especially among distributors to end-users. While the market as a whole declined, Michelin said its flag brands continued to gain market share as its share of the private and associate brand segment continued to shrink.
While the overall North American markets were weak, Michelin noted gains of 4.1 and 10.6 percent, respectively, in the H- V/Z-rated segments through nine months.
Replacement truck tire demand continued below last year´s pace, although Michelin said it gained share in the down market both in new tires and retreads. OE truck tire demand grew 12 percent in the quarter, pushing the January-September gain to 6.6 percent.
Raw materials costs have eased the past several months, but Michelin said it still expects its raw materials bill this year to be nearly $1 billion higher than in 2005.
For the year, Michelin estimates the North American replacement and OE passenger/light truck tire markets will be down by 3.7 and 1.2 percent, respectively, vs. 2005, and the replacement truck tire market will fall 3.8 percent below 2005. OE truck tire sales should end the year 8.4 percent ahead of 2005.