HANNOVER, Germany-Continental AG anticipates a ``perceptible increase'' in earnings for fiscal 1995, boosted by successful cost containment measures and increased sales. And depending on a lively winter tire business-Conti's latest winter tire generation scored high marks in most of the important winter tire comparison tests-earnings could be pushed beyond expectations.
For the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, Conti reported continued growth in earnings over last year, saying they were ``perceptibly above budget'' without divulging the actual figure. For fiscal 1995, management said it expects earnings to reach 2.5 percent of sales, up measurably from 0.7 percent last year.
Nine-month sales rose 2.9 percent over 1994 to $5.18 billion (DM 7.44 billion), but would have been considerably higher except for currency effects, the firm said.
Reflecting an expansion in business volume, Conti's North American unit, Continental General Tire Inc. (CGT), increased sales 10.1 percent, when calculated in dollars; translated into deutschmarks, however, the difference was a decline of 4 percent, to DM 1.57 billion, or $1.11 billion (at the Sept. 30 rate).
In a letter to shareholders, Conti attributed CGT's performance, in part, to its appointment as sole tire supplier for the new Ford Taurus, ``which is expected to generate high sales.''
The company said it ``also managed to gain new customers in the indpendent tire trade and to increase unit sales by 41 percent.''
CGT's commercial tire division posted positive results, and its heavy radial truck tires ``increased their shares in the original equipment business,'' the letter said.
A new three-year collective bargaining agreement for CGT's truck tire plant in Charlotte, N.C., has helped the unit achieve ``competitive costs in this plant,'' Conti said, while avoiding the risk of lengthy strikes.
In Europe, the company's passenger car tire business unit improved sales 3.2 percent, truck tire sales rose 10 percent, and its engineered products division, ContiTech, was up 14.2 percent.