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Michelin suffers 2.6% decrease in 1Q net sales versus 2007

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Groupe Michelin recorded net sales of nearly 4.1 billion euros for the first quarter ended March 31, 2008. That compares to sales of 4.2 billion euros -- a 2.6% decrease -- for the same period last year.

Based on the exchange rate for March 31, 2008, Michelin posted sales of more than $6.4 billion. Michelin did not release net income.

Tire segment sales are as follows (with comparisons to 1Q 2007 in parentheses):

1. Passenger/Light truck: 2,157 million euros (down 4.2%).

2. Truck: 1,327 million euros (down 2.3%).

3. Specialty businesses, including earthmover, agricultural, two-wheel and aircraft tires; maps and guides; ViaMichelin; and Michelin Lifestyle: 607 million euros (up 3%).

The company's sales volume in tonnage was up 1.1% thanks to "a good commercial performance with the light vehicle manufacturers" and the passenger car and light truck replacement markets "in the emerging zones," says the company. Volume was limited "by the general decline of European and North American replacement markets."

During the first three months of 2008, Michelin says its trading environment was "less supportive than initially anticipated." Most of the mature countries' tire markets were down, except for Europe’s original (equipment) truck tire market, which remained strong.

For the year, Michelin estimates that it should post moderate net sales growth, and that its operating income before non-recurring items should approach the 2007 level.

In North America, Michelin's replacement sales were globally in line with the market, especially in the United States. The Groupe strengthened its positions in Mexico.

Average unit selling prices rose, mainly underpinned by mix enrichment. The price increase effective March 3, 2008, will produce its effects in the coming months.

Michelin's OE sales outperformed the market, adds Michelin.

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