AKRONContinental A.G., Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. and Toyo Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd. enjoyed increases in earnings and sales during 2014 despite a weak economy in parts of the world.
However Titan International Inc. suffered a net loss and decrease in sales as demand in its key sales categories diminished during the year.
Continental is projecting a 9-percent sales gain and an operating margin of at least 10.5 percent in fiscal 2015, building on the firm's solid financial results in fiscal 2014, the firm's top executives said March 5.
Conti's adjusted pre-tax operating income for 2014adjusted for acquisition-related amortization and special effectsgrew 3.7 percent to $5.13 billion on 3.5-percent higher sales of $45.8 billion. Net income jumped 23.5 percent to $3.15 billion.
Close to half of the firm's sales growth in 2015, or roughly $1.7 billion, will come from the inclusion of revenue from Veyance Technologies, the former Goodyear engineered products business that Conti bought for $1.58 billion.
Conti's tire division reported fiscal 2014 operating earnings rose 6 percent to $2.43 billion on 2.1-percent higher sales of $13 billion.
The tire business sold 128 million car and light truck tires in 2014, with high-performance and winter tires accounting for 46 percent of the total, up from 44 percent in 2012 and 39 percent in 2010.
Sumitomo (SRI) reported 11.9-percent better operating income last year on the combined effects of lower raw materials costs and improved volumes and product mix, but management expects a slowdown in earnings growth in fiscal 2015.
Sales grew 7.3 percentto $7.92 billion in what Sumitomo described as a weak global economy that resulted in stagnant demand, leading to intensified competition in tire sales.
Operating income rose to $815.7 million as tighter pricing more than offset the gains from lower raw materials costs$29.3 million vs. $25.1 million, Sumitomo said.
Net income jumped 18.8 percent to $502.8 million.
SRI's tire business reported operating earnings of $741 million, a 12.3-percent improvement, on 7.4-percent higher sales of $6.91 billion. SRI said it registered improved sales in nearly all areas of business, both domestic and overseas, although it singled out China and Russia as areas where it faced intensifying competition.
Sales in North America rose 2.6 percent to $865.2 million, while sales in SRI's other geographic segment jumped 27.8 percent, or $242 million, to $1.11 billion.
Longer term, SRI noted it continues to push initiatives supporting its Vision 2020sales of more than $11 billion and an operating income ratio of 12 percent or greater.
Titan suffered net and operating losses last year on 12.4-percent lower sales, but Chairman, CEO and President Maurice Taylor Jr. is confident the leaned-out firm will be back in the black in 2015 as key markets recover.
Titan's loss from operations reached $97.6 million in fiscal 2014, vs. a profit of $102.4 million in 2013. The net loss hit $130.4 million vs. earnings of $29.7 million. Sales fell to $1.9 billion.
Mr. Taylor cited drops in demand in all of Titan's major sales categories, currency exchange rate impacts, impairment charges related to asset writedowns and union-led production slow-downs for the company's swing to operating and net losses.
Titan's sales plunged 34.7 percent in the fourth quarter to $383.3 million, and the loss from operations hit $66.6 million.
Mr. Taylor noted that both the agricultural and earthmoving/construction sectors were weak in 2014, especially in the higher value-added, higher horsepower equipment categories.
Titan's ag and earthmoving/construction segments reported 14- and 18.5-percent drops in sales, respectively, while the smaller consumer segment registered a sales gain of 15.4 percent, reflecting the addition of revenue from the Voltyre-Prom acquisition in Russia.
Toyo posted record sales and earnings for fiscal 2014, with the operating margin exceeding 12 percent on the positive effects of robust replacement tire sales, stable raw materials prices and favorable exchange rate changes.
Operating income jumped 27.6 percent to $449.1 million on 6.4-percent higher sales of $3.72 billion. Net income more than doubled to $295.3 million.
Toyo's tire business led the way last year, reporting 34.1 percent operating income of $428.3 million on 7.8-percent higher sales of $2.95 billion.
Toyo attributed the sales gains primarily to its overseas business units, with growth reported in North America, Europe and Southeast Asia. Toyo in particular noted healthy sales of high value-added SUV tires in North America.
Toyo's business in North America grew 14.9 percent last year to $1.51 billion. Operating earnings in North America rose 13.8 percent to $85 million.
For 2015, Toyo expects its business in North America to grow 18-plus percent, a rate that would make the continent Toyo's largest unit, representing nearly 45 percent of global sales.