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Groupe Michelin posts strong 4Q sales

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Groupe Michelin recorded consolidated net sales of 15.37 billion euros for the fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2003. That compares to net sales of 15.64 billion euros for 2002.

During the fourth quarter, Michelin posted net sales of 4.22 billion euros compared to 3.96 during the same period the previous year -- an increase of 6.6%.

Worldwide consumer tire sales in units were mixed for Michelin. In the replacement market, the company was up 2.6% vs. 2002; in the original equipment market, it was down 4.4%.

Michelin's global truck tire unit sales were up in both the replacement (4.8%) and OE (3%) segments.

North America: While the overall North American replacement consumer market was up 0.4% compared to the previous year, Michelin North America Inc.'s shipments were down 0.9%.

"This (decrease) results from some losses in market share in both mass market and the H-rated tire segments in the first nine months of the year, combined with some capacity shortages in the SUV segment in the second half," says Michelin. "Conversely, the launch in September of the Michelin HydroEdge range in the mass-market segment and the new BFGoodrich Traction T/A in the H-rated segment recorded a strong success.

"In the fourth quarter, the emphasis was on the quality of the 'Group' market share: The Group's brand mix improved substantially in favor of 'flagship' brands and at the expense of 'private' brands."

In the OE market, Michelin "outpaced" total North American shipments by being down only 1.3% vs. the total market's 3% decline.

In the truck tire segment, total replacement shipments were up 1.5%, while Michelin was up 6%. At OE, shipments in North America and from Michelin increased 4.6% and 2.5%, respectively.

In the truck tire retreading segment, "further progress was achieved" in 2003 vs. 2002, according to Michelin. The company says it plans to open 12 Michelin Retread Technology plants in 2004.

Europe: Overall replacement consumer tire shipments were up 5.4%, compared to a 5.1% increase recorded by Michelin. At OE, shipments were down for both the overall market (3.6%) and Michelin (11.2%).

In the commercial end, overall replacement truck tire shipments were up 2.3% compared to Michelin's 3.6% increase. At OE, the market (up 2.8%) outpaced Michelin (up 0.1%).

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