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'We want nearly 70% more premium tire capacity'

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Over the summer, Groupe Michelin reviewed its capital expenditure program and 2015 financial outlook. The review followed the group’s "robust interim 2012 earnings performance," which reflected its strategic vision, its competitive strengths and its management.

(To read about Michelin's first-half 2012 $1.1 billion profit, click here.)

"In a global tire market environment that will remain supportive over the medium and long terms, despite the current uncertainty, Michelin is focusing on projects that sustain its growth and strengthen its competitive advantages," said the company in its review. "They include a premium positioning, leadership in its specialty businesses and a broad worldwide footprint."

Here is the rest of Michelin's review.

"The premium tire segment, in which Michelin sets the benchmark and which is expanding faster than the overall market, represents a strong growth opportunity that Michelin will seize by expanding its premium tire -- 17 inches and above -- production capacity by nearly 70% between 2012 and 2015.

"To widen its leadership in its specialty businesses, Michelin is pursuing the announced projects in South Carolina, to extend mining tire capacity at the Lexington plant and to build a new facility in Anderson, for a total investment of $750 million.

"With a global footprint already well balanced between Europe, North America and the rest of the world, the group is going to step up its deployment in the new markets, which will account for nearly 60% of its new capacity investments. In addition, to widen its technological leadership, Michelin is increasing its investments in materials, with capital expenditure of around 550 million euros a year through 2015.

"Backed by its demonstrated ability to manage its capital expenditure, Michelin will commit a total of between 1,600 million euros and 2,200 million euros a year over the 2012-2015 period, depending on the market outlook.

"As a result, and confident in its strengths, Michelin confirms its guidance for full-year 2012, i.e. a clear increase in operating income before non-recurring items, with a 3% to 5% expected decrease in full-year sales volume, and free cash flow of around 300 million to 400 million euros before the impact of the sale of a property complex in Paris.

"After a year of transition in 2013, tire markets should return to their structural growth of 4-5% a year, with raw materials prices tracking a similar trend. The group’s objective is to increase sales in line with market growth.

"For 2015, Michelin aims to report operating income before non-recurring items of around 2.9 billion euros, with normalized operating margins before non-recurring items of 10-12% in the passenger car and light truck segment; 7-9% in the truck segment; and 20-24% in the specialty businesses, which are expected to grow more quickly than the rest of the group.

"Michelin also aims to deliver a more than 10% return on capital employed and positive free cash flow in each year over the period."

Michelin will release its nine-month 2012 results on Monday, Oct. 22, after the close of trading.

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