PARIS—The combination of solid unit growth and the positive effect of currency exchange fluctuations helped Group Michelin achieve an 11.9-percent gain in sales last year to $14.2 billion.
Michelin did not release earnings at this time, but said operating profit was in the range of $1 billion to $1.2 billion, as forecast at the end of the third quarter. Michelin made no forecast for 2001; investment firm Morgan Stanley Dean Witter estimated an 8-percent rise in earnings this year.
Overall, Michelin reported a 5.6-percent rise in units sold; this figure includes 11.8-percent growth in replacement market sales in North America, which was offset to a degree by a 10.2-percent drop in original equipment sales, Michelin said. Sales growth in the fourth quarter slowed to about 3 percent, in part due to the slumping North American OE truck tire market.
The company was able to hold the negative effects of raw material price increases throughout the year to about 1 percent by better replacement/OE market mix in North America and Asia, sustained price increases of its own, and above-average growth of higher value-added products.
Specifically, Michelin said its sales of tires for light trucks and sport-utility vehicles in North America rose 27.7 percent over 1999, and outstripped the market growth of 15.4 percent. Sales of speed-rated performance tires more than doubled the market growth rate of 7.8 percent, Michelin said.