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Conti eyes 5% growth in "13

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HANNOVER, Germany—Continental A.G. is targeting growth this year of about 5 percent after sales last year grew by more than 7 percent over 2011 despite despite slumping European auto markets.

Conti also expects its pre-tax operating income to remain above 10 percent of sales, according to Chairman Elmar Degenhart, in remarks accompanying the release of preliminary fiscal 2012 figures.

Sales last year reached $42 billion, Conti said, with an adjusted EBIT of 10.7 percent.

Conti's fiscal 2013 project was made in light of a “great deal of uncertainty regarding the course of passenger car production,” Mr. Degenhart said.

Conti expects global production of passenger vehicles to grow about 2.5 percent to 82 million units.

“We shall very likely not quite be able to hold to our tempo in the successful year 2012,” Mr. Degenhart said. “To be sure, we already came very close to meeting many of our medium-term financial targets in 2012. In any event, we shall further reduce our indebtedness in the current year.”

Conti at this time did not provide specifics on its individual operating businesses. Through nine months, though, the company reported its consumer tire division had increased sales 9.6 percent over 2011 to about $9.3 billion with pre-tax operating income up 36.7 percent, yielding an earnings average of nearly 21 percent. In the commercial tire business, sales were up 11 percent to $1.9 billion with an earnings margin of 11.4 percent.

The firm will present its fiscal 2012 results on March 7.
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