Michelin has released its first half figures. Compared with 1H 2001, turnover is up 1.4 per cent to 7.8 billion Euros and operating profits up 16 per cent to 569.6 million Euros. Net profits were down 31.2 per cent to 254.1 million Euros, but the figures for 1H 2001 included a sale of Peugeot shares; when these are factored out of the equation, net profits for 1H 2002 rose 279 per cent. Much of the credit for the results goes to Michelin’s restructuring programme and debt has been reduced by one billion Euros, with operating margins improving one point to 7.3 per cent of net sales. Raw material costs declined by 6 per cent over the period. Looking ahead, Finance Director Michel Rollier described the second half of the year as “challenging and uncertain”, particularly the economic crises in South America. Michelin’s shares rose nearly 4 per cent on publication of the results.
In the USA, UBS Warburg has upgraded Ford’s shares from “Reduce” to “Hold”. Despite this, the analysts have reservations about the future and believe that a re-scaling of Ford’s business and a more drastic restructuring will be necessary.
Commodities traders are predicting that China will soon outstrip the USA as the world’s biggest consumer of rubber, importing one million tonnes this year and producing 400,000 tonnes itself. Demand from the tyre industry accounts for 80 per cent of this figure, as car sales increase to an estimated one million this year – a 40 per cent increase over last year. Sumitomo Rubber has announced that it would begin radial tyre production next April in China for both home and export markets.
CVC Capital, the potential buyer of Kwik-Fit has bought Halfords from Boots Comp. PLC for 410 million pounds, with a possible further 17 million pounds payable in performance related agreements. Halfords sold its garage operations to the AA last year leaving the core business in car parts and car and cycle accessories.
Bandag has released its second quarter results. Net income was $11.7 million, a $2.2 m (23 per cent) increase over Q2 2001. The cost of litigation with Michelin (now settled) in Q2 was $5.7 million, bringing the cost for the first six months to $9.7 million. For the first half year, Bandag’s consolidated loss totalled $34.4 million. Looking ahead, CEO Martin Carver said that the company did not foresee an increase in demand for retread products but he welcomed the ending of “the distractions caused by the Michelin litigation”.
BMW and PSA (Peugeot-Citroen) are to jointly develop a new family of small petrol engines, with a target of one million units. The base for the project will be Munich and R&D will come from BMW, with PSA handling production and procurement. The total investment is said to be 750 million Euro.
Nokian’s shares have risen 12 per cent over the past three months and, for the year as a whole, have risen slightly against an 11 per cent general decline in the auto and component sector. The Finish company traditionally makes the lion’s share of profits in the second six months of the year, because of winter tyre sales, plus Nokian has announced a joint venture in Russia and its RoadSnoop tyre pressure monitoring system has great potential. Despite all this, analysts Morgan Stanley have downgraded the company from “Equalweight” to “Underweight”. The reasons for this caution are 1. A worry that the winter tyre market may not be as good as expected, due to large stocks. 2. The high level of investment needed and time scale of the Russian JV. 3. The high level of investment in retail expansion which has yet to show returns.
Ferrari has launched its latest car, the 350 + km/hr Enzo Ferrari, named after the company’s founder. The tyres for the vehicle (of which 349 will be made) are specially-manufactured by Bridgestone and are called the Potenza RE050 Scuderia. Sizes are 245/35 ZR 19 (front) and 345/35 ZR 19 (rear).
In North America, Goodyear has chosen Exel Logistics as its lead logistics provider. Goodyear is keen to improve fill rates to dealers, particularly its independent dealer network, and sees Exel (with whom the company has been working since 1996) as the means of streamlining the supply chain.
The progression of the Kwik-Fit sale by Ford has resulted in speculation in the press as to the selling price. The latest figures vary around the 300 – 350 million pound mark. A Ford spokesman in the USA told T&A that the company was not prepared to comment on the selling price, other than to say that “Kwik-Fit will not be sold unless there is a fair price for the company. Discussions are progressing towards that end but the conclusion of the sale could be within a week, a month or sometime next year.”
Following the appointment of administrative receivers to Brandrick Holdings Limited a management team, led by Carl Brandrick, has bought the business and assets of Tyre Collection Services Limited. Carl Brandrick, the company’s managing director stated, “Tyre Collection Services Limited will continue to provide the exceptional quality of service expected by its customers. We have established an excellent reputation within the tyre industry and this will be maintained”.
Hayes Lemmerz International, Inc has announced several key appointments to its Global Leadership Team. The following individuals will report directly to Curtis J. Clawson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer: James A. Yost has been appointed as Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Mr. Yost retired from Ford Motor Company in 2001 after serving as Vice President of Corporate Strategy. Kenneth A. Hiltz will continue in his role as Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO). He will continue to play a key role in the development and implementation of the Company’s restructuring plan. Brian O’Loughlin has been appointed as Chief Information Officer (CIO). Mr. O’Loughlin joins the Company from Revlon, Inc., where he served as CIO. Edward W. Kopkowski has been appointed to the newly created position of Vice President of Operational Excellence. Mr. Kopkowski previously served as Founder and President of Kopko Associates, Ltd., a consulting firm. “These talented professionals will bring tremendous strength to our organisation and have a major, positive impact on our global business,” said Mr. Clawson.
The Ford divestment sale of Kwik-Fit is drawing to a close with apparently only one potential buyer left in the running. CVC Capital Partners, a private equity firm, seems close to buying the fast fit group from Ford for 300 million pounds. Ford is said to be retaining a share in the business that it may use to recoup some losses in the event of the market improving. There is no word on whether Sir Tom Farmer will remain with Kwik-Fit after the sale has been completed.
The RMA in the USA have petitioned the federal government to adopt a reserve air pressure standard for tyre pressure monitoring systems. According to the RMA, vehicle manufacturers set the safe pressure limit at, or just above, the minimum required for safe operation of a fully laden vehicle. The existing 30 per cent drop in pressure allowed by tyre pressure monitoring systems means that fully laden vehicles could be running on tyres inflated to dangerously low levels. The RMA is asking that the suggested tyre pressure setting should be set at 30 per cent above the safe limit, thus allowing 30 percent loss without creating a dangerous underinflation.
Cooper Tire & Rubber has published its results for the second quarter, which showed a Q2 record net income of $39 million; an increase over last year’s 2Q figure of 113 per cent. Sales were up one per cent to $836 million and Cooper managed to reduce debt by $29 million. Sales for the first six months totalled $1.6 billion; a 4 p.c. rise over 1H, while net income was up 196 p.c. over the same period last year, at $65 million. 2Q tyre operation sales were $414 million ($433 m 2Q 2001) with operating profit up 39 p.c. to $37 million. The company’s North America unit volumes for 1H have risen by almost 5 p.c., against a decline for the industry of around 2 p.c.