SEOUL, South Korea (Feb. 11, 2008) — Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. management is forecasting 2008 sales growth of nearly 20 percent, following fiscal 2007´s record sales of $3.47 billion and a solid gain in operating income.
Hankook, the world´s No. 7 tire maker in 2006, bases its growth prospects in part on the full-year contribution of its newest plant, in Hungary, which came on stream in mid-2007, and expanded performance tire capacity in South Korea.
CEO Seung Hwa Suh said despite a challenging year for the industry as a whole, the firm´s strategy of increasing the quality and reputation of its products allowed it to build margins without hurting sales growth in new and established Hankook markets.
Hankook reported operating earnings of $281.8 million for the year, a gain of 5.1 percent over 2006, as the cost of sales grew 12.4 percent. The operating earnings/sales ratio fell slightly to 8.1 percent as a result, but management predicts this will rebound in 2008 to about 9 percent despite continuing double-digit increases in costs.
Hankook anticipates getting up to 4 million tires this year from its plant in Dujauvnoros, Hungary, up from nearly 1 million shipped from that factory during the latter half of 2007.
In addition, the firm expects investments being made at its Guemsan, South Korea, plant to boost annual capacity there for ultra-high-performance tires by 5 million units by year-end 2009.