Federal Corporation has reported its first quarter results. Sales rose 16.3 per cent to US$26.4 million (1Q 2002: US$ 22.7 m). Sales in March this year hit an all-time high figure of US$10.7 million (March 2002: US$8.6 m), of which 70 per cent were export sales. Jamie Ma, President of Federal Corporation, was bullish about future prospects, predicting “another year of growth”.
Nokian Tyres and Amtel Holdings have formally registered the joint venture company Amtel-Nokian Tyres LLC (ANT), in which both have a 50 per cent stake. ANT will begin operations immediately, with a target of selling 600,000 Nordman branded tyres this year and 2 million tyres in 2004.
Michelin’s first quarter sales fell 4.9 per cent year on year to 3.655 billion Euros. This was due to a strong negative effect (-10 per cent) due to the weakness of currencies in North and South America versus the Euro. Sales volumes rose, but income fell in passenger car/light truck (-4.9 per cent), heavy truck (-0.9 per cent) and other segments (-5.4 per cent). Despite these figures and a predicted decline in markets, financial analysts regard Michelin as well positioned to make progress, although lower profits for 2003 are forecast.
Three years ago, Nissan had debts of 2,100 billion Yen ($17.4 billion) but the company has recently announced a cash surplus of 8 billion Yen. Last year’s operating profit was a record 737 billion Yen (5.5 bn Euros); an increase of over 50 per cent. Net profit was up 33 per cent, at 495 billion Yen (3.7 bn Euros). In addition, Nissan’s operating margin of 10.8 per cent is the highest in the industry. Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn forecast higher operating profits and increased unit sales for the year ahead.
Industry analysts Goldman Sachs have upgraded Ford to In-Line and downgraded GM to Underperform. This follows better-than expected first quarter profits from Ford – net income was $896 million, compared to a loss of $1.1 billion in 1Q last year. GM has warned that it might not meet its profit target this year.
Goodyear Dunlop UK Limited has begun a consultation process with the unions and public authorities regarding the restructuring of its UK Sales Operations at Tyrefort, Birmingham. Andreas Niegsch, General Manager, said the move was necessary “to become a more flexible, dynamic and responsive organisation in a highly competitive marketplace.” He added that the restructuring would mean job losses, with up to 116 associates affected at Tyrefort and 100 in field operations. The consultation process is scheduled to run for 90 days.
Ohtsu Tire & Rubber is to merge with its parent company, Sumitomo Rubber Industries, from 1st July. Falken brand products will be marketed independently in competition with other SRI group brands. The company ex pects growth in Falken sales and improved product supply due to synergies in all areas from production planning through to logistics.
In the UK, the Continental Tyre Group has appointed David Smith as Finance and IT Director. He joined the company in January from Hayter Limited, where he was Finance Director. He replaces Mike Potter, who is retiring after 31 years with Continental, the last 24 of which were as Finance Director.
Bernd Pischetrieder, VW’s chief executive, is to reorganise the company’s board. This follows the recent departure of sales and marketing director Robert Buchelhofer after VW announced a profits warning, leading to a fall in the company’s share price. Mr. Pischetrieder has assumed responsibility for sales and marketing and may not appoint a successor to Mr. Buchelhofer.
Neil Cleaver has been appointed First Stop Business Development Manager, covering the Midlands. He was formerly a retail account manager for the Royal Mail Group and has extensive experience in marketing, which he intends to put to good use by helping First Stop dealers set up local marketing and promotional campaigns.
Steve Manuel has joined Hankook UK as Technical Truck Manager, in which capacity he will be working alongside Barrie Horrocks. Steve’s career began over 20 years ago at ATS, then he moved to Central Tyre in Chester as a truck tyre fitter, becoming branch manager in due course. Later he was promoted into Pirelli as a field-based service engineer for the truck technical department.
Hercules Tire & Rubber Company has appointed Bruce Campbell to the newly created position of Director of Commercial Sales. His task will be to develop new business and increase current commercial business with Hercules stockholders, distributors and commercial tyre dealers. Mr. Campbell has an extensive background in the commercial tire business, most recently with TCI/Michelin.
Group Tyre has successfully negotiated with Deldo to become the exclusive UK distributor for the Sunny brand; a tyre for which Deldo has exclusive European rights. Sunny tyres are available in 17 sizes, for wheels up to 17″, with new sizes being added as the brand develops. It joins Group’s other exclusive offerings of Stunner, Trayal and Eurotour tyres. Deldo’s decision to choose Group Tyre underlines the latter’s performance as a national distributor, furthermore, one who has the strength and ability to establish the brand in the UK.
Alcoa, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency, the State of Texas, and citizens groups have announced a Clean Air Act agreement under which the company will further reduce sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from its Rockdale Operations lignite-fired power generating units near Rockdale Texas. The total effect of Alcoa’s previous and latest commitments would reduce the company’s emissions of sulfur dioxide by at least 52,000 tons per year and emissions of nitrogen oxide by at least 17,000 tons per year.
Cars are getting faster and the high performance tyre sector is one of the fastest-growing parts of the market. Seemingly most of the tyre manufacturers are concentrating their efforts on this sector and reviewing their product mix accordingly. Once only a few manufacturers were active in the hp and uhp segment, now seemingly everybody boasts a performance offering. We take a look at what’s available.