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Groupe Michelin remains optimistic following strong 2004

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Groupe Michelin reported operating income of close to 1.3 billion Euros on net sales of 15.7 billion Euros for its 2004 fiscal year ended Dec. 31. Excluding the impact of exchange rates and changes in the scope of consolidation, those results were up 13.7% and 6%, respectively, compared to the previous year.

Net earnings totaled 527 million Euros, a 60% increase when compared to 2003 (after non-recurring items). Using the Euro-United States dollar exchange rate as of Dec. 31, 2004, Michelin's net earnings were $715 million last year.

According to Groupe Michelin Chairman and CEO Edouard Michelin, the company delivered "substantial improvement" in its financial performance despite rising external costs.

"We look to 2005 with confidence, as such momentum is built on our strengths. We will continue to progress further on all tire markets.

"We are targeting a level of operating result which is at least as good as that achieved in 2004 despite a more difficult environment, in particular because of additional strong raw material price increases."

Michelin's operating income breaks down as follows (the pecentage of the total each segment represents is in parentheses):

Consumer tires: 731 million Euros (56.3%).

Truck tires: 548 million Euros (42.2%).

Other: 20 million Euros (1.5%).

As of March 14, Michelin's stock was selling for 54.35 Euros a share, or $72.76 a share in U.S. dollars. Based on Michelin's financial results in 2004 and optimistic forecast for 2005, a 35% increase in the dividend will be submitted for approval at its annual shareholders' meeting on May 20, 2005.

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