CLERMONT-FERRAND, France — After reporting a "robust performance" in the quarter ended March 31, Group Michelin is forecasting solid growth throughout fiscal 2021, even in the face of a "highly uncertain environment" as the global health crisis continues to unfold.
Michelin reported 8.3% higher sales in the quarter ended March 31 of $6.63 billion, despite the disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic and a "certain amount of disorganization" in the supply chain.
Consumer and commercial tire markets experienced significant improvements year-on-year, rising by 9% and 20%, respectively, Michelin reported. .
In unit volume terms, the company registered 7.5% growth year-over-year, an increase that contributed nearly $490 million to the sales growth.
The higher volumes were particularly notable in passenger car/light truck replacement markets and in the specialty businesses, helping offset a negative currency-exchange impact of over $375 million.
Michelin did not disclose its earnings at this time, but said "barring any new systemic impact" from COVID-19 it confirms its earlier full-year guidance of operating income of over $3 billion at constant exchange rates.
Even as raw materials and logistics costs continue to rise, Michelin said it maintains its objective of reporting a slightly positive net impact of changes in price/mix and raw-materials costs.
Michelin said it continued to improve in competitiveness during the quarter by "diligently managing its prices" and strengthening its positions in the most promising growth segments.
Looking at the rest of 2021, Michelin is forecasting shipments of passenger and light truck tires to grow by 6% to 10% over the year, truck tires between 4% and 8% and specialty tires (farm, earthmover, aircraft, etc.) by 8% to 12%.
Michelin said European and North American OE markets declined in the first two months of the year as a "chip shortage" forced plants to suspend production. March, however, saw "an extremely robust recovery off of weak prior-year comparatives hard hit by COVID-19."
In North and Central America, replacement demand rose by 10% overall, with gains in all of the leading markets of the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
In all, OE demand ended the first quarter down 4% in Western and Central Europe and down 8% in North and Central America.
Replacement markets in Western and Central Europe rebounded by 8%, as flat sales in the first two months were offset by a 24% upsurge in March.