2012 performance best ever, says Conti CEO
At Continental’s annual press conference on 7 March, CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart described the company’s 2012 performance as “the best results in Continental’s 124 year history.” He reiterated that last year’s annual profit of almost 1.9 billion euros equals 9.24 euros a share, compared with 6.21 euros in 2011. Therefore, Dr. Degenhart shared, Continental’s management intends to propose to the company’s Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on 15 May that a dividend of 2.25 euros per share be paid out for fiscal 2012. “As in the previous year, out intention here is for our shareholders to participate directly in the company’s success,” he added. “In addition to the dividend, our shareholders also benefit from the extremely positive share price performance – with an increase of 82 per cent in fiscal 2012 alone. As such, our shares displayed the highest price increase of any of the DAX companies. It is fair to say that an investment in Continental shares paid off handsomely in 2012.”
Degenhart said Continental remains “confident, albeit a bit more guarded” with its forecast for the current year. “Essentially, we expect markets to develop much the same as in 2012: Europe will remain weak, while North America is likely to grow, though at a much slower pace than in 2012. We expect strong growth in Asia, with China as the driving force there.
“As expected, 2013 got off to a difficult start,” Degenhart continued. “Current assessments indicate that combined light vehicle production in Europe and NAFTA will fall by around eight per cent in the first quarter of 2013. For Europe alone, we anticipate a decline in production of 12 per cent. We still generate approximately 50 per cent of our Automotive Group sales in this region. This year, the downturn in the first quarter cannot be offset by growth in other regions, as was possible, for example, in the fourth quarter of 2012. Demand on the replacement tyre markets in Europe and NAFTA is, moreover, also showing continued sluggish development.
“Overall, we therefore expect consolidated sales to drop one to three per cent in the first quarter vis-à-vis the record sales in the first quarter of 2012,” the Conti CEO shared. “For the remainder of the year, we expect to see a pickup in consolidated sales, particularly in the latter half of 2013, buoyed by an increase in global light vehicle production and demand on the replacement tyre markets. As mentioned earlier, for all of 2013, we anticipate an increase in global production of passenger cars, station wagons and light commercial vehicles from 80.9 million units in 2012 to approximately 82.5 million in 2013. We also expect demand on Continental’s key replacement tyre markets to grow by around two per cent.