On 4 January Delticom AG, Europe’s leading online tyre dealer, predicted it will beat its full year 2009 revenue and earnings forecasts. While the severe weather has slowed down many business over the Christmas and New Year period, representatives of the Hanover, Germany-based Delticom report that the snowy weather helped 2009 sales past the 300 million euro mark. The company had previously forecast sales of 285 million euros for the period.
Deutsche Bank Equity Research analysts report Pirelli’s intention to purely concentrate on the company’s tyre business following the spin-off of its real estate assets by mid-2010. Once this has taken place, tyres will represent 95 per cent of Pirelli’s revenues, the report adds. Management at the Italian manufacturer is said view the coming year with confidence, a positive view driven mostly by a recovery of volumes in replacement markets. It believes the entire seven per cent decline experienced in the passenger car tyre market and half the truck tyre market’s 14 per cent drop can be recovered during 2010. This positive effect, comments the bank’s analysts, should more than offset a small increase in raw material expenses, as the tyre industry is expected to remain “disciplined” in passing on raw material price increases to consumers.
Continental AG, is reportedly planning to sell bonds to refinance its debt. Bloomberg quoted two people “familiar with the situation” as saying the move follows HeidelbergCement AG’s so-called junk-bond sale. In this case demand outstripped supply and HeidelbergCement raised 2.5 billion euros selling its bonds. At the same time, Morgan Stanley made “large upward adjustments” to its earnings for Continental, its 2010 earnings per share predictions by 128 per cent to 2.74 euros. The analysts also raised their 2011 and 2012 estimates to 5.14 and 6.35 euros (up 52 and 32 per cent respectively). The bank’s new price target is now 37 euros, up 131 per cent from its previous position of 16 euros.
US replacement tyre demand increased 4 per cent year-on-year in September, according to RMA data. Analysts equated this to a 1 per cent growth in the third quarter 2009. Nevertheless sources report that 2009 demand (at 174 million consumer tyres) is still down 14.4 per cent in the year September. During the same period US truck tyre volumes fell 23.6 per cent to 10.8 million units.
Based on last year’s figures, Deutsche Bank analysts predicted that this trend would increase towards the end of the year: “Two of the past three months have posted positive year-on-year results and year-on-year comparisons also become much easier in the months ahead.” Replacement demand fell -15.8, -17.1 and -15.5 per cent in October to December 2008.
After pioneering the so-called “cash for clunkers” scrappage incentive model in 2008, which was then mirrored in all the major European markets, the French government has announced that it is phasing out its 1000 euros for a 10 year-old car stimulus package. According to financial analysts, this measure had a net positive impact on demand of approximately 200,000 units, or 10 per cent of the market against a gross market impact of 400 units.
The developments in the French market follow the rather more abrupt end of a similar scheme in the German market, where demand for cars purchased under the scheme exceeded supply on 2 September. According to a Deutsche bank report published at the time, the scheme was responsible for 9000 unit sales a day since its introduction.
To avoid a free fall of the market next year, Germany’s car market for example is expected to be 25 per cent down in 2010, the French government has decided to reduce its scheme progressively. Next January the incentive will drop to 700 euros before dropping to 500 euros next July and hitting zero in January 2011. As a result, Deutsche Bank analysts are predicting “a limited decline of French registrations in 2010 of around 1.9 million units, -5 per cent.”
Continental AG’s tyre operations are “doing extremely well,” according to financial analysts. Writing in an investor’s note, Deutsche Bank analysts reported that the tyre business' 11 per cent (combined truck and passenger) operating margin in the first half of 2009 outperformed its rivals.
“Even if the group enjoyed a small 45 million euro positive impact from raw material (compared with a small negative of 19 million euros at Pirelli and a bigger negative of 117 million euros at Michelin), they enjoyed a double digit operating profit margin despite a high 20 per cent volume decline,” the analysts wrote.
Looking forward, Deutsche Bank predicted that the tyre operations will benefit from a positive raw material effect of (200 million euros) and from a volume recovery.
The analysts pointed out that tyre operations produce 48 per cent of Continental AG’s group revenues.
European and worldwide tyre markets are finally stabilising, according to a report released today (3 September). Writing in response to the latest round of market figures issued by leading French tyre manufacturer, Michelin, market analysts at Morgan Stanley described their view of the current market conditions as “slightly better than our expectations.” Despite highlighting the fact that the data continues to show negative year-to-date growth rates in almost every market, the analysts focused on the fact that the pace of the decline “showed material improvements compared to year-to-date trends and it looks on track to exceed our volume forecast for the quarter.
Market analysts are predicting that the German market scrappage scheme is likely to have come to end today as demand for cars purchased under the scheme now exceeds supply. According to a Deutsche bank report published today the scheme has been responsible for 9000 unit sales a day since its introduction and – as of today – only 5000 applications remain.
Global OE tyre demand remained week in July, according to figures released by Michelin. However, the data also shows that, while global OE tyre demand continues to take a beating, there are signs of recovery in most replacement segments. However, Some of the least improved figures are in the European truck replacement market, where analysts described the status quo as “very poor.” Here July’s sales were -17 per cent down (-29 per cent year-to-date).
The fact that natural rubber prices have rebounded 25 per cent to US$2.1/kg for RSS3 in the last month means raw material prices that had been assisting tyre manufacturers are no longer a “tailwind.” The news is forcing analysts such as Deutsche Bank revise their earnings estimates as they had mostly factored in the possibility that that tyre companies would pass a portion of this raw material price benefit onto their vehicle making customers. However, with the current boost in rubber prices behind them the 33 – 50 per cent of the so-called rubber tailwind they may have pencilled to share with the OEMs is not likely to be erased.
The price of RSS3 grade natural rubber has shot up 25 per cent to US$2.0/kg in the last month (and US$ 1.8/kg for TSR 20 grade). True, according to Deutsche Bank analysts the latest prices surge is expected to impact tyre manufacturers’ profit and loss accounts in the first quarter of 2010. But this is still significantly below what tyre companies paid in 2008 (approximately $2.8/kg; 2007:$2.3/kg). Furthermore, according to the bankers, this is “not necessarily bad news for the industry” because higher input prices reduces the risks of “negative pricing” in the short term. In other words, with the impending recovery in sell-in markets expected any time now, in the coming months the industry will face no difficulties in increasing selling prices.
According to a recent Deutsche Bank investors note, Pirelli EBIT is estimated to reach 7.9 per cent in second quarter/first half results. In addition, the analysts commented: “Revenues should benefit from a lower volume decrease, -13 per cent vs. -16 per cent in the first quarter and the price mix is still very positive (+5.3 per cent versus +6.9 per cent), benefiting both from a better mix and the disciplined behaviour of manufacturers so far.
Financial analysts are projecting Michelin will post sales of 7.2 billion euros (-13 per cent compared with last year) when it presents its first half results. According to a recent Deutsche Bank investor’s note, the company will report an operating loss of 50 million euros and a net loss of 360 million euros (after factoring differed tax assets and restructuring charges). The bank’s first half estimates are below consensus (expected operating profit – 90 million euros; net loss – 200 million euros), however looking forward to the second half the analysts report that they expect a sharp rebound (above consensus) “thanks to a recovery of volumes.”
Continental AG is reportedly considering a 1 billion euro (£865 million; $1.4 billion) capital increase. According to an article published in the Financial Times, Conti CEO Dr Karl-Thomas Neumann is to make the proposal at a supervisory board meeting next week scheduled in advance of the company’s combination solution announcement, expected at the end of July. Neumann’s suggested capital raising is being described as “an alternative to a merger with Schaeffler,” FT said.
According to the newspaper recent plans for Continental to regain control of the merger through a reverse takeover of its 90 per cent shareholder have been “torpedoed” by Schaeffler Group. Schaeffler is reportedly negotiating with its backs to delay loan payments for two years. Under current terms it would have had begin repaying a first 500 million euro debt tranche in January 2010. Meanwhile, Continental is said to need a “quick merger or a capital increase” owing to the fact that it has 800 million euros in debt maturing in August and a further 3.5 billion euros maturing in 2010.
Financial analysts are predicting that the Pirelli & C SpA will separate shares in its tyre business from the holding company. Writing in an investor’s note, Deutsche Bank analysts predicted “near-term action to reduce holding discount by giving shareholders two stocks: a pure tyre company and a pure holding company” and valued the tyre company at between 0.21 euros and 0.33 euros/share.
Good take up of Pirelli Real Estate SpA’s capital increase, which closed on Friday 3 July and was 99.4 per cent subscribed, has also resulted in a 14 per cent reduction in net debt, according to analysts. The company itself reported it raised 397 million euros throught the offer.