Bridgestone Corp. retained its spot as the world´s largest tire maker in 2006, although just barely ahead of Michelin, behind an 11-percent spurt in sales.
A big shift in the value of the yen versus the dollar during the year-5.6 percent-nearly halved Bridgestone´s growth. The two competitors ended the year in a virtual tie, based on tire-related sales, with Bridgestone at $19.4 billion and Michelin at $19.3 billion.
Michelin posted a sales gain of 5.1 percent, and the euro-dollar exchange rate shifted only 1 percent.
Bridgestone´s claim to the top spot is bolstered by its 44-percent holding in Turkey´s Brisa Bridgestone Sabanci Tire Mfg. Co. Ltd. Bridgestone and Turkey´s Sabanci Holdings hold equal shares in the company, which ranks 29th this year with sales of $483.7 million.
No. 3 Goodyear´s 3.6-percent growth lagged behind both its major competitors´ performances. Its tire sales came in at $18 billion for 2006.
The top 13 spots are unchanged from a year ago, when the rankings saw three big changes at the top.
The first change is at No. 14 where China´s Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. landed after its sales grew nearly 50 percent to $1.08 billion. It came in at No. 23 for 2005.
By virtue of its acquisition of South Africa´s Dunlop Tyres International Ltd. during 2006, India´s Apollo Tyres Ltd. moved up two spots on the ranking to 16th at $949.1 million.
The size of the global marketplace grew 9.4 percent to $112 billion, according to estimates based on Rubber & Plastics News´ annual survey of more than 250 tire companies worldwide.
Bridgestone, Michelin and Goodyear account for slightly more than half of the world´s sales, and the top 10 represent 74.5 percent.
Titan International Inc. moved up 12 spots to 34th after acquiring Goodyear´s North American farm tire and Continental Tire North America Inc.´s off-the-road tire businesses, which doubled Titan´s sales to $400 million.
New to the rankings
Debuting in the Top 75 this year are:
—Petlas Tyre Industry & Trade Co. of Turkey at No. 51 with sales of $132 million;
—Vee Rubber of Thailand at No. 63 with estimated sales of $75 million;
—Artawheel Tyre Co. of Iran at No. 71 with sales of $63 million;
—P.T. Multistrada Arah Sarana Tbk. of Indonesia (formerly P.T. Oroban Perakasa, now under new ownership) at No. 72 with sales of $61.9 million;
—Ralson (India) Ltd. of India at No. 74 with sales of $49.8 million; and
—Sameer Africa Ltd. of Kenya (formerly Firestone East Africa) at No. 75 with sales of $43.6 million.
Deals made so far this year that could have an effect on the rankings next year include:
—Continental´s acquisition of 51 percent of Matador A.S. of Slovak Republic. Matador ranked 36th this year with tire-related sales of $358.4 million; and
—Bridgestone´s acquisition of Bandag Inc., which will boost Bridgestone´s annual revenue by more than $900 million.
The average sales per employee of the major tire makers last year was $211,436, an 8.5-percent improvement over 2005. Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. and Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. topped this list at $389,151 and $350,069, respectively.
Finland´s Nokian Tyres P.L.C. led the earnings list this past year, posting an operating profit/sales ratio of 18.3 percent and a net profit/sales ratio of 12.8 percent.
The average operating profit ratio for the 17 major tire companies for which data were available was 6.1 percent — down 1.6 percentage points from a year ago — while the net ratio was 1.5 percent, dragged down by losses by Goodyear, Pirelli & C. S.p.A., Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. and Amtel-Vredestein N.V.
Of the 75 firms listed this year, 11 are from China; 10 from India; eight from the U.S.; five each from Taiwan and Japan; four from Russia; three each from Iran and South Korea; two each from Indonesia, Italy and Turkey; and one each from Argentina, Belarus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Slovak Republic, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine and Vietnam.