FRANKFURT, Germany-In stark contrast to a year ago, when the world's major tire makers were for the most part deep in the red, the top global tire producers have improved earnings for the first half of the current fiscal year. Inconsistent economic recoveries around the world and labor problems in the U.S. cloud the picture for the rest of the year, however.
Groupe Michelin made the biggest improvement, moving $79.5 million into the black after having finished the first six months of 1993 $604 million in the red. Goodyear doubled its net profit for the period to $279.2 million.
Despite the marked improvement, Goodyear still came up shy of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. in terms of earnings-to-sales ratio. Here Cooper's $54 million in earnings represented 8.2 percent of sales, vs. a 4.7 percent ratio for Goodyear, the second-highest performance.
Of the major companies reporting thus far, only Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. experienced a decline in earnings during the period. Pirelli Tyre Holding N.V. narrowly crept back into the black.
The tire companies, in general, credited growth in the global economy along with cost containment measures for the improved results.
As a result, the tire manufacturers anticipate improvements over last year for the entire fiscal year, although with varying degrees of confidence, depending on the conditions in their particular key markets.