AKRON—The name at the top of the 2011 Rubber & Plastics News ranking of North American rubber product makers wasn't a surprise, but this year Goodyear had a bit more breathing room.
The Akron-based tire maker boosted its rubber product revenues on the continent by 20.2 percent to $9.86 billion to again claim the No. 1 ranking. Last year, Goodyear had just a $5 million lead over Michelin North America Inc.—a virtual statistical dead heat.
The Michelin subsidiary was a bit further behind in 2011, but held onto the No. 2 position with North American sales of $9.6 billion, an increase of 17 percent from 2010 figures. Michelin had placed first in the 2009 rankings over Goodyear by a mere $23 million.
Bridgestone Americas Inc. remained No. 3 in the ranking, with estimated 2011 rubber product sales of $7.81 billion.
While North America often is looked upon as a mature market, this annual look at the continent's top 50 rubber product firms shows there remains opportunity for growth.
For example, all but six of the companies posted increased revenues during 2011. The top 10 as an aggregate posted $40.5 billion in rubber product sales, 14.8-percent higher than the firms that made up last year's top 10. And the billion-dollar club added two new members—Veyance Technologies Inc. and Titan International Inc.—bringing to 15 the number of firms boasting more than that amount of North American revenues last year.
Among market sectors, all nine of the tire makers in the rankings showed substantial gains in North American sales on the year. Titan International, boosted by acquisitions that added revenues, saw its rubber products sales in the region jump by nearly 70 percent to $1.01 billion.
Automotive also continued to be strong for rubber product firms, with 15 automotive suppliers showing gains on the year, with just three seeing sales drop slightly or remain steady. Some of the big gainers in the sector included Cooper-Standard Automotive Inc., Freudenberg-NOK Sealing Technologies, Federal-Mogul Corp., Henniges Automotive and Avon Automotive Holdings Inc.
Both of the medical-related firms in the top 50—Ansell Healthcare Inc. and West Pharmaceutical Services Inc.—also posted solid increases for 2011.
Rounding out the top 10 in the survey were Continental A.G., moving up one spot to No. 4, at $2.98 billion; Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. up a slot to No. 5 with $2.86 billion; Yokohama Tire Corp., jumping six spots to No. 6 with $1.82 billion; Parker-Hannifin Corp., rising three spots to No. 7 at $1.43 billion; Cooper-Standard staying at No. 8 with just less than $1.43 billion; Carlisle Companies Inc., still at No. 9 with $1.42 billion; and Toyo Tire (USA) Corp., up three notches to No. 10 at $1.33 billion.
There were four new entries to the top 50 for 2011.
Hose firm Fluid Routing Solutions was ranked No. 32 with sales of $190 million in 2011. Its stay in the rankings will be short lived, however, because Park-Ohio Industries Inc. bought the firm earlier this year.
Polymer Enterprises Inc. came in at No. 40 with sales of $140.7 million. And the final two spots in the top 50 went to two Indiana companies. Jasper Rubber Products Inc. placed No. 49 with $74.2 million, followed closely by BRC Rubber & Plastics Inc., with $73.8 million.
Just missing out on the top 50 were Quality Synthetic Rubber Inc., at $73 million, and AirBoss of America Corp. at $71 million. AirBoss was tied at No. 49 for 2010 and showed a slight decline in its defense business for 2011, but a significant increase in its custom compounding unit, which makes up the vast majority of its sales.
Looking at other measures, 10 of 22 public companies with rubber units—not necessarily all ranked in the top 50—reported improved net income. Six of them had lower earnings and three posted a loss.
In terms of capital investments, 20 of 21 companies reported higher spending in 2011, while 14 of 18 increased research and development spending.
World non-tire top 50
There was a reshuffling at the top of the ranking of the World Top 50: Non-Tire Rubber Products manufacturers. Continental A.G. and Hutchinson S.A. switched spots, with Conti coming in at No. 1 with $4.61 billion and Hutchinson second at $4.16 billion.
Besides swapping rankings spots, Continental's and Hutchinson's sales also were going in separate directions. Conti's estimated non-tire revenues rose 22 percent during 2011, while Hutchinson's dropped 17.3 percent.
The next two firms also traded places, with Trelleborg A.B. moving up one to No. 3 at just more than $3.89 billion, barely ahead of Freudenberg Group at No. 4 with $3.89 billion.
Trelleborg and Freudenberg were more than just neighbors in the rankings, though. The two companies have combined their automotive antivibration activities into a joint venture that began operations on July 1 and is expected to post annual sales of about $1.7 billion.
From there, the firms ranked Nos. 5-11 stayed the same as the 2010 listing.
Bridgestone Corp. was No. 5 at $3.79 billion; NOK Inc., No. 6 at $3.39 billion; Tokai Rubber Industries Ltd., No. 7 with $3.04 billion; Pinafore Holdings B.V., formerly Tomkins P.L.C., No 8 at $2.96 billion; Cooper-Standard, the top ranked U.S.-based firm, No. 9 at $2.95 billion; Parker-Hannifin, No. 10 at $2.47 billion; and Veyance Technologies, No. 11 at $2.1 billion.
Looking down the chart a few notches, U.S.-based Eaton Corp. could be poised to move up next year. The firm recently completed its purchase of Turkish industrial and hydraulic hose maker Polimer Kaucuk Sanayi ve Pazarlama A.S., which posted 2011 sales of about $335 million.
Japan again had the most entries in the global non-tire top 50, with 15 firms, followed by the U.S. with 12 and Germany with seven.