SEOUL, South Korea — Hankook Tire & Technology Co. Ltd. recorded double-digit improvements in sales and operating income for the quarter ended March 31 over the corresponding 2020 period.
Pre-tax operating income jumped 24.5% to $28 million on 12.6% better sales of $1.2 billion, yielding an operating ratio of 2.1%.
A year ago as the pandemic was spreading rapidly in Asia, Hankook suffered double-digit declines in operating income and sales for the quarter amid sharp drops in demand caused by the worldwide economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lower consumer sentiment.
Hankook attributed some of the revenue improvement to increased sales of higher value-added low-profile performance tires (rim diameters of 18 inches and larger), along with an expanding OE business with premium car makers globally. Replacement market sales increased in the U.S., Europe and China.
Global sales of larger-diameter tires accounted for 38% of Hankook's first-quarter tire sales, a gain of four percentage points over the 2020 quarter.
Hankook's business in Europe and North America grew 14.7% and 7.8%, respectively, over 2020 to $472 million and $350 million.
Hankook said its business has been recovering steadily since the second half of 2020 as global markets recover from the impact of the pandemic.
In 2021, Hankook sees opportunities for growth in the larger rim diameter categories and in building its OE business. Growth in demand for tires for electric vehicles is another growth opportunity, Hankook said,
In terms of building its brand, Hankook pointed to its being selected recently by Germany car maker Porsche A.G. as an OE supplier for the Porsche 718 Boxster/Cayman and the Taycan high-performance electric sports car. It also has begun supplying tires to a pair of EV models made by China's fast-growing electric vehicle brand.