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Continental's sales fell 35% during 1Q

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Continental AG's consolidated sales fell 35.2% during the first quarter of 2009 to 4.3 billion euros. Company officials attribute the loss to "severe slumps" in the firm's key markets.

"First quarter automobile production in Europe and North America plunged by 45% and was once again signficantly below the volume for the previous quarter. Production in the last quarter of 2008 had already declined 28%."

Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann, chairman of Continental's executive board, believes "the business environment will remain very difficult in the second quarter, as well."

He adds that due to continuing turbulence in the financial markets, it will be "extremely difficult" to forecast the remainder of the year. "Our uppermost goal remains that of reducing debt. We still anticipate substantial free cash flow in 2009. This will be fostered by the suspension of the dividend, substantial cuts in capital spending and further reductions in fixed costs."

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