PARIS (April 29, 2009)—Michelin sold almost 25 percent fewer tires in the first quarter of 2009 and net sales fell 14.2 percent to $4.63 billion.
The tire maker said the decline in unit sales is due to the falloff in tire demand in all markets but China. The decrease was especially steep in original equipment passenger and light truck tires as car makers cut production and drew down inventories. In the replacement market, the tire maker said the contraction seen at the end of 2008 gained momentum in the first quarter as motorists cut back on driving and retailers focused on reducing inventories.
In North America, aftermarket demand seemed to have stabilized, but at very weak levels, the company said.
For the quarter in North America, Michelin said, the OE passenger and light truck tire market slid 52 percent while the replacement passenger and light truck tire market fell 11.8 percent.
The radial OE truck tire market in North America plunged 45.1 percent, according to Michelin, and that replacement market segment fell 25.3 percent.
The firm said the European OE market showed some recovery in countries that had introduced automobile stimulus packages, with a more favorable impact on small-car tires.
Michelin said it is on track to generate positive cash flow this year.