PARIS-Markedly increased sales volume and the effects of cost containment programs helped Groupe Michelin into the black for the six months ended June 30. The company expects the improvements to continue through the rest of the year, although it made no corporate earnings projection; Michelin North America, as a whole, is expected to break even this year, although Uniroyal Goodrich Tire Co. will still be in the red.
Michelin's half-year profit came despite a $56.1 million provision taken to cover costs of workforce reductions and plant closings.
Consolidated net earnings reached $79.5 million, compared with a loss of $604 million last year. Sales rose 8.7 percent to $6.09 billion, thanks to rebounding demand in Europe, buoyant sales in North America, and a 20-percent jump in Asian business.
The profitable period was only the second in four years reported by Michelin, which was $698 million in the red for fiscal year 1993.
Earnings might have been higher, the company said, but a large proportion of the sales growth came in the original equipment segments in both Europe and the U.S., where margins are smaller.
Along the same lines, Michelin is steadily increasing production of its low-rolling-resistance ``green'' tires, to the point where output will reach 14 million units, up from 2 million last year, but slightly lower than the forecast a year ago. The majority of these are being sold to OE customers.
In North America, Michelin anticipates ``significant'' savings by reorganizing its distribution system, reducing the number of warehouses from about 42 last year to 18 by year's end 1995.
The new regional distribution points will be ``mega'' warehouses, covering 2 million square feet or more each, and stocking all of the company's various products.