Japan's Bridgestone Corp. is the world's No. 1 tire maker for the fifth straight year, according to Tire Business' annual ranking of the world's tire manufacturers, outdistancing No. 2 Group Michelin despite meager growth in 2012.
Bridgestone's estimated tire-manufacturing-related sales of $28.6 billion put the Tokyo-based maker more than $2 billion ahead of Michelin and nearly $9.5 billion ahead of No. 3 Goodyear.
Further down the list, Japan's Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. slipped past Italy's Pirelli & C. S.p.A. into fifth by a slim margin$7.76 billion to $7.63 billionaided by the difference in the dollar/yen and dollar/euro exchange rates throughout 2012.
Sumitomo's sales in yen grew 4.8 percent over 2011 while Pirelli's in euros were up 7.7 percent, but the dollar/euro exchange rate moved 10 percent while the yen/dollar rate was essentially unchanged.
In essence, though, the change restores Sumitomo to the No. 5 ranking it held for several years prior to 2002, when its sales dipped following the sale in 1999 of majority ownership of its Dunlop-related assets in North America and Europe to Goodyear.
Tire Business ranks tire makers based on their revenue from the sale of tires, excluding revenue from non-tire products, including auto-service-related revenue at company-owned retail stores, sales of steel cord, synthetic rubber or carbon black to third parties, etc. Bridgestone and Michelin, for example, report millions of dollars in revenue from their respective captive retail networks.
The U.S. dollar-denominated sales figures are based on average annual currency exchange figures, in order to avoid unusually high or low exchange rates at year-end.
Likewise, South Korea's Hankook Tire Co. Inc. edged past Japan's Yokohama Rubber Co. Ltd. for the No. 7 spot on the list, $6.26 billion to $5.57 billion. Hankook reported 8.3-percent higher sales in 2012 vs. Yokohama's 0.6-percent drop in revenue.
Continental A.G. retained the No. 4 spot at $10.9 billion, while Taiwan's Maxxis International/Cheng Shin Rubber Co. Ltd. and China's Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. Ltd. kept their Nos. 9 and 10 rankings with sales of $4.63 billion and $4.56 billion, respectively.
Overall, the estimated value of tire sales worldwide slipped slightly from 2011 to $187.5 billion, putting Bridgestone's share at 15.2 percent, Michelin's at 14 percent and Goodyear's at 10 percent.
Collectively the top 10 tire companies account for nearly 65 percent of the world's tire sales, based on Tire Business' numbers.
Apollo Tyres' pending $2.5 billion acquisition of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will create what should become the No. 7 tire maker in the future, based on their 2012 sales of $2.35 billion and $4.2 billion, respectively.
Among the more notable movers among the Top 75 are India's MRF Ltd. and Titan International Inc. of the U.S.
MRF moved up three spots to 14th on the strength of a 23-percent rise in sales. While OTR and farm tire and wheel specialist Titan International Inc. jumped five rungs to 22nd on the strength of new sales derived from its acquisitions last year of Titan Europe and Australia's Planet Corp. Group and Goodyear's farm tire business in Latin America in 2011.
Among firms with joint ventures or affiliations in the Top 75, Singapore-based Chinese maker GITI Tire Pte. Ltd.ranked No. 15 on its own, with sales of $2.7 billionwould be 12th if sales of Indonesia's P.T. Gajah Tunggal TBK were added. GITI Tire, through an affiliated company, Denham Pte. Ltd., owns 49.7 percent of Gajah Tunggal's stock.
Group Michelin, which has an off-take production aggreement with Gajah Tunggal, owns 10 percent of the Jakarta-based manufacturer. Roughly 12 percent of Gajah Tunggal's $1.24 billion in sales last year, or about $150 million, were for Michelin.
Likewise, Bridgestone's sales scope is enlarged by two minority holdings: a 43-percent ownership stake in Turkey's BRISA/Bridgestone-Sabanci Tire Mfg. (No. 37 with 2012 sales of $791.6 million) and a 19-percent stake in Finland's Nokian Tyres P.L.C. (No. 18 with $1.87 billion in sales).
The plateauing of the global sales number is in contrast with 20-percent-plus growth recorded the past two years.
New to the rankings this year is Qingdao Sentury Tire Co. Ltd., the manufacturing arm of Sentaida Group. Returning the ranking after a year's absence is Guangzhou Pearl River Rubber Tyre Ltd.
Dropping out of the ranking were: Sri Lanka's Loadstar Pvt. Ltd. and India's Govind Rubber Ltd.Loadstar for lack of updated information; Govind was displaced by larger firms.
From a profits standpoint, 2012 was solid for the 20 largest companies that provided fiscal sales and earnings data. The average pre-tax operating profit ratio for the 20 was 10.7 percent, up two full points from 2011, and the average net income ratio was 5.4 percent, up nearly one full point from 2011.
All of the companies tracked in the earnings categories were in the black in fiscal 2012.
Nokian Tyres generated the highest earnings from a ratio standpoint, recording operating and net income ratios of 24 and 20 percent. Apollo Tyres, Continental, Maxxis International, Michelin, Hankook Tire, Nexen Tire and Pirelli also reported double-digit operating income/sales ratios.
Nokian also recorded the highest sales per employee number at $507,592, ahead of Sumitomo's $378,695 and Toyo's $373,213.
There are 27 Chinese companies in the 2012 rankingincluding five among the top 20along with nine from India, five each from the U.S. and Taiwan, four from Japan, three from Italy and South Korea, two each from Indonesia, Russia, Thailand and Turkey and one each from Argentina, Belarus, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Iran, Pakistan and Vietnam.
To reach this reporter: bdavis@ crain.com; 330-865-6145.