HANOVER, Germany-Thanks to an improving economy, stable prices and close attention to costs, Continental A.G. was able to increase its pre-tax earnings for the first half of 1994 by 20.8 percent, leading management to predict net earnings for the fiscal year will be ``slightly above'' 1993's. For the period ended June 30, Conti's earnings rose to $23.7 million (all figures converted at the quarter-ending exchange rate of $1=1.595 marks). Sales improved 6.3 percent to $3.01 billion, although most of the improvement was due to the inclusion of revenue from acquisitions.
For the full year, Conti expects sales to be 4 to 5 percent above the 1993 figure. The firm's European tire business showed a slight improvement, with OE orders for truck tires 10 percent ahead of 1993's depressed level. Replacement market sales of passenger car tires rose 4 percent.
Also contributing to the bottom line improvement was a ``notable'' reduction in operating losses by its subsidiary, General Tire.
Management declined to forecast a full year result for General, but said structural and organizational changes have streamlined that company.
General Tire's sales were down 2.5 percent in the period to approximately $683.5 million, primarily because of the loss of a ``major'' private brand customer. A General spokesman said Big O Tires Inc. ``was the only major account we lost.''
OE business, on the other hand, was up and other replacement business was ahead of 1993.
For the remainder of 1994, General will ``focus greater attention on the dealer business with a new marketing concept and will implement a product strategy attuned to the different channels of distribution,'' Conti told shareholders.