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Bridgestone takes top spot in N.A. rubber rankings

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There is a new king atop the rubber product industry in North America for 2013 as Bridgestone Americas Inc. overtook Michelin North America Inc. to land in the No. 1 spot.

The Nashville-based subsidiary of Japan's Bridgestone Corp. posted an estimated $11 billion in rubber product sales on the continent, an increase of 10 percent from 2012.

Bridgestone, in the No. 3 spot a year ago, does not specifically break out sales for North America in its financial statements, but it did list revenue data for both the Americas and the U.S. in its latest annual figures, making for a more accurate estimate of its North American sales. Rubber & Plastics News uses the average annual currency exchange rate in figuring the final revenue totals.

Bridgestone did report that unit sales of passenger and light truck tires in North America increased “steadily” over 2012, while sales of truck and bus tires rose “strongly.” The firm makes a variety of other rubber products such as rubber roofing and air springs, among other goods.

Michelin took the crown last year, but dipped to No. 2 as its sales on the continent fell 6.2 percent during 2013 to $9.34 billion, according to data from the annual report of the French parent company. A 3.5-percent shift in the euro/dollar exchange rate played a role in the decline.

After re-calculating Bridgestone's 2012 revenue totals, in fact, Bridgestone and Michelin likely would have been neck-and-neck for the No. 1 position a year ago.

Michelin's consumer tire sales volumes in North America “generally tracked the market,” with gains by the Michelin brand offsetting losses in the mid-range brands, the company said. In truck tires, Michelin reported “good growth” in North America.

Goodyear was once the perennial top dog in the North American rankings before divesting its engineered products division. The company dropped one spot to No. 3. as its rubber product sales in North America declined 10.2 percent to $8.68 billion, according to data supplied by the company.

But the Akron-based firm saw plenty of positives in its overall financial standing for the year. Its operating earnings climbed 26.6 percent for 2013, its net earnings more than tripled, and its North American business reported 72-percent higher segment operating income of $199 million.

The company also said in early June that it is shifting a majority of its capital expenditures to the Americas, after spending heavily in the Europe/Middle East/Africa and Asia markets during 2011-13.

“With growing consumer demand for our high-value-added tires in North America and Latin America, the time is right to invest in additional manufacturing capacity in the Americas to maintain Goodyear's leading position and to grow earnings beyond 2016,” said Chairman and CEO Richard Kramer.

Continental A.G. moved up one spot to take the No. 4 position in North America with $3.55 billion in sales, an increase of 28.9 percent. That total will grow more next year if its purchase of Veyance Technologies—the former Goodyear Engineered Products division and No. 14 in the rankings—goes through as scheduled.

Rounding out the top 10 in the survey are Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. at No. 5; Wolverine World Wide Inc., No. 6; New Balance Athletic Shoe Inc., No. 7; Cooper-Standard Automotive, No. 8; Parker-Hannifin Corp., No. 9; and Yokohama Tire Corp., No. 10.

The top 10 posted aggregate sales of $43.6 billion in 2013, up 1.4 percent from 2012 results. A total of 16 firms posted sales of $1 billion or more in North America—Titan International Inc. being the lone newcomer—and 30 of the 50 firms showed higher revenue for the year.

Newcomers to the list were TrelleborgVibracoustic, the joint venture of Trelleborg A.B. and Freudenberg Group at No. 23; ZF Group at No 40; and Zodiac Aero Elastomer America, which returned to the list at No. 45 after a year's absence.

AirBoss of America Corp.'s acquisition of Flexible Products Co. Inc., completed late last year, and Wabtec Corp.'s purchase last fall of Longwood Industries Inc. likely will land them on next year's top 50.

The former Carlisle Transportation Products business also will be in next year's rankings on its own after being purchased at the end of 2013 by American Industrial Partners.

World non-tire top 50

On the rankings of the top 50 global non-tire rubber product makers, Continental kept the top spot with $4.63 billion in sales and Hutchinson S.A. remained No. 2 with $4.35 billion. Freudenberg jumped three spots to land at No. 3 with $3.95 billion in sales. Rounding out the top 5 were Tokai Rubber Industries Ltd. at No. 4 and Bridgestone at No. 5.

While positions changed, the only newcomer to the top 20 was West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., which climbed from No. 22 to No. 20, with non-tire rubber sales last year of just under $1 billion.