Michelin predicts "difficult" 2002

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Weeks after reporting a 28% decline in net income during 2001, Groupe Michelin is forecasting "difficult market conditions" for the first half and 2002 and beyond.

"Taking into account the uncertainty of a turnaround in the second half, the Groupe is targeting for the whole year an operating margin between 6.7% and 7.4%," say Michelin officials.

Michelin blames last year's losses on "the deterioration of the world economy and the decline in tire markets, especially sharp in North America."

The French tiremaker is confident that it will boost its profitability this year thanks, in part, to massive global job cuts, inventory controls and other "rationalization" measures.

Groupe Michelin's net sales rose 2.5% in 2001 over previous year levels to $15.7 billion euros.

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