SEOUL, South Korea — Hankook Tire Co. Ltd. management expects the South Korean tire manufacturer to achieve sales growth of nearly 20 percent this year.
The seventh largest tire maker in the world in 2006, Hankook said it bases its sales forecast in part on the full-year contribution of its new 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 mar- kets.
The tire manufacturer posted sales of $3.47 billion in 2007, with operating earnings of $281.8 million for the year, 5.1 percent over the previous year.
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 producing as much as 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 the end of 2009.