CLERMONT-FERRAND, France (Feb. 18, 2004) — Currency fluctuations pushed Group Michelin's 2003 net sales down 1.8 percent from 2002; earnings were not released at this time.
Michelin said using constant exchange rates and including sales from an early 2003 acquisition in the tire distribution field would have resulted in a 5-percent gain. The company shipped 3.7-percent more tires on a tonnage basis and reported gains on better pricing and product mix, but the currency fluctuations more than offset all the gains to leave sales at $17.4 billion.
The company's passenger and light truck tire business in North America slipped 1 percent on a 0.9-percent drop in aftermarket shipments and 1.3-percent lower original equipment sales. Michelin's commercial tire business, on the other hand, showed a 4.8-percent gain in sales volume, based on 6-percent growth in the aftermarket and a 2.5-percent gain at OE.
Michelin's sales performance contrasted with overall aftermarket growth of 0.4 percent in passenger/light truck tires and 1.5 percent in truck/bus tires. Overall North American OE shipments shipments fell 3 percent in North America.
In the fourth quarter, net sales of $4.77 billion were 6.6 percent ahead of the 2002 quarter, with the addition of sales by Viborg Group, the European tire distribution network acquired in the first quarter, contributing most of the gain.
Michelin said tire markets for the year fared slightly better than its expectations, especially in Europe. In North America, shipments in the consumer replacement market had a 0.4-percent increase in units. The tire maker said the consumer replacement market recovered from a 0.3-percent decline by the end of September partly from the recovery of the sport utility vehicle market following the Firestone Wilderness/ATX recalls in 2000/2001.
Group Michelin will report its full-year earnings Feb. 24.