MILAN, Italy — Pirelli & C. S.p.A. reported a slight gain in operating income for the quarter ended March 31 on 13.4-percent higher sales, reflecting continued growth of the firm's premium segment.
Pirelli's operating income for the period rose 1.5 percent to $179.9 million while sales revenue grew to $1.43 billion.
The figures reported for the first quarter reflect the reconfigured, purely consumer-business Pirelli, without the truck and farm tire activities that now are part of TP Industrial Holding.
Pirelli said organic growth accounted for 8.4 percent of the revenue increase, with favorable foreign exchange rate changes responsible for 4 percent and the consolidation of the car activities of Jiaozou Aeolus another 1 percent.
Pirelli said Jiaozu Aeolus has begun converting its product range to the Pirelli brand, in line with the firm's aim of accelerating development in China.
Premium revenues rose 16 percent during the quarter, Pirelli said, and now represent 67.8 percent of total sales, up from 66.2 percent a year ago.
Unit volumes of premium tires grew 15.3 percent.
Viewed geographically, Pirelli said its Asia/Pacific and NAFTA sectors achieved the highest profitability among all the macro-areas.
Revenues in the APAC and NAFTA areas increased 26.6 and 16.5 percent, respectively, while Europe showed 7.8-percent growth.
South America, on the other hand, registered a 3.2-percent drop in organic sales — i.e., excluding foreign exchange and perimeter variations — reflecting lower sales in the non-premium segment. Pirelli attributed this decline to the steady shift toward premium products in North America and the shrinking car market in Argentina.