HANOVER, Germany — Continental A.G. is bracing itself for a rough first half of 2019 as it expects a slowdown in vehicle production in the last few months of 2018 to continue throughout the first six months of the new year.
The forecast reflects "continued weak demand in China, the trade dispute between the U.S. and China, and … the switch to WLTP in Europe," CFO Wolfgang Schäfer said, while also noting the potential effect of issues around Brexit.
The negative market trend — a drop of 4 percent in global car and light commercial vehicle production in the fourth quarter — "is likely to continue unchanged in the first half of 2019," the group forecast in a preliminary financial statement released Jan. 14.
But helped by "slight market growth" in the second half, Mr. Schäfer said Conti expects the production volume of cars and light commercial vehicle in 2019 to be on a par with the previous year.
Continental achieved sales growth for 2018 of about 1 percent with consolidated sales of around $52.4 billion, its preliminary figures show.
The group's adjusted EBIT margin came to about 9.2 percent, equivalent to adjusted operating earnings of around $6.66 billion.
In the fourth quarter, Continental's sales of around $12.9 billion remained at prior-year levels.
Adjusted for changes in the scope of consolidation and exchange rates, Continental said its sales-growth was about 3 percent in the past fiscal year.