Canadian-based SmarTire Systems has announced a third quarter (ended 30th April) loss of CAN$ 2.1 million. This represents a net loss per share of $0.14 compared to a net income of CAN$9.6 million and a gain of $0.64 per share for the same period in 2000. SmarTire explain that the gain in 2000 was due to a CAN$12.2 million sale of investments, and that revenue for the 2001 third quarter stood 14% higher than in 2000, at CAN$265,463.
Michelin and IBM have announced that the tyre manufacturer has installed for all Europe a new Web-based system – based on a Web-enabled IBM eServer zSeries mainframe – that improves service to its network of 50,000 European distributors by allowing them to place orders for Michelin products directly over the Web any time of the day or night. The system is initially being deployed for use by Michelin’s large European distributors in the United Kingdom, Germany and France and will be made available to the most of the company’s European network tyre distributors. Full deployment will be by 2004.
Despite the difficult environment which is not likely to lead to improvements in the coming half year Deutsche Bank is recommending Michelin shares as a “Buy”. The analysts believe that the focus on high performance tyres will pay off and they believe also that, due to the anticipated sale of the Pirelli truck division, competition will be lower in the future for Michelin, which is very strong in that market.
Engineers at the University of Purdue (Indiana/USA) have developed a new technique for analysing tyre vibrations that identifies which features produce the most noise, a step toward designing quieter tyres and reducing highway noise. A mathematical model is used to identify which parts of a tyre produce the most noise. The vibrations are characterised on a graph, a visual representation that’s like a fingerprint of each tyre’s vibration pattern.
There are reports in the press that the recent deal whereby Pirelli acquired control of Telecom Italia, could result in some sort of merger, perhaps even a three-way alliance between Pirelli, Olivetti and TI. Pirelli Chairman Marco Tronchetti Provera says that “the structure above Telecom Italia needs to be simplified” but he could say no more until all options had been studied and evaluated.
Ford is said to be preparing to list the company on the London Stock Market in order to attract investors. The cost of the tyre recall has decimated profits in the USA, plus the market there is slowing down with the “Big Three” losing share. Ford is currently quoted on the New York Stock Exchange and a London listing would also emphasise the global status of the group.
In a difficult environment Bridgestone/Firestone was able to sell in the first half of 2001 more units than in the first half of the year 2000. Managing Director Günter Unterhauser confirmed that, in the first half of this year, his company sold 4 per cent more passenger car tyres and 6 per cent more truck tyres while the market in general fell by 2 per cent and 4 per cent respectively. The increases in motor cycle tyres (plus 29 per cent) and agricultural tyres (plus 29 per cent) were significantly higher. In the EM-Segment Bridgestone sold as many tyres as in the first half of 2000 while the market shrank by 10 per cent. Due to several good test results the management is very confident for the winter season and is convinced that turnover for the year as a whole will be at least 10 per cent higher than the previous year. Operating results are in line with expectations and the management said that it is quite satisfied.
Trelleborg, the Swedish industrial conglomerate has reported a stronger pre-tax profit than expected for the first half. Although only returning a figure of 439 million Kroner, a fall from the 789 million Kroner reported for the same period in the previous year, the profit exceeded the expected 431 million Kroner. Sales rose from 6.59 billion Kroner to 9.62 billion Kroner over the same period, and operating profit, excluding once only items, stood at 619 million Kroner, 100 million above the same period for the previous year.
Changing climatic conditions are leading Goodyear engineers to develop tyres with greater levels of grip on wet surfaces. Precipitation levels in North America have risen dramatically in recent years, with figures climbing by as much as 15% in the US/Canadian border states. Elsewhere, storm levels have increased and seven hurricanes are expected this year. Goodyear’s chief engineer, Bill Egan says, “Greater levels of grip on rain-slick roads can be engineered on the computer for real world conditions. Improving a tyre’s wet-traction capabilities is vital in these times of changing weather patterns.”
Nokian Tyres has reported its Q2 results, which proved better than analysts expected. While sales were as forecast (up 11.7 per cent to 95 million Euro), operating income was much higher than predicted at 8.5 million Euro, with an operating margin of 8.9 per cent (last year, 3.5 per cent). Results were helped by the 1.9 million Euro operating profit recorded by the Vianor retail chain. Analysts are cautious about the outlook for the second half of the year, with much depending on winter tyre sales.
The rapid expansion of the Chinese automotive industry has created a demand for rubber components. This has developed an import market for specialised rubber products and is producing a boost to the rubber products sector, with special interest in acrylate rubber, ternary ethylene propylene rubber, thermoplastic rubber, flourine rubber, nitrile hydride rubber and chlorine alcohol rubber.
The agency charged with developing the proposals for mandatory fitting of tyre pressure monitoring has admitted it has insufficient scientific evidence to support its task. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have no files which point directly to flat tyres as a cause for crashes, nor does it have information on how often under-inflated tyres contribute to crashes. It is estimated that flat tyres cause less than half of a percent of all crashes. There is a danger that the feeling that there is a need to “do something”, may result in expensive regulations which mask real safety threats.
Hayes Lemmerz Int. appointed Curtis J. Clawson as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. In connection with Clawson’s appointment, Ranko “Ron” Cucuz, the Company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, will remain as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Most recently, Clawson was President and Chief Operating Officer of American National Can Group, a $2.5 billion NYSE traded manufacturing company, which was acquired by Rexam PLC.
Continental Teves plans a joint venture with the Shanghai Automotive Brake Company (SABC) – subject to the approval of the Chinese authorities. The aim is to provide the market with a complete brake systems package from one source. SABC already manufactures Continental Teves brake components under license, and produces components for both Volkswagen and General Motors.