HANOVER, Germany - German tire and car parts maker Continental AG posted record sales of 11.4 billion euros ($12.6 billion) for 2002 on Monday as its auto components business more than compensated for falling tire sales.
The world's fourth-largest tire maker said in a statement the 1.6 percent rise in overall sales was driven by a sharp rise in revenues at its Automotive Systems unit, which specializes in auto electronics, steering and braking systems.
Continental, which is emerging from a period of painful restructuring and factory closures, is due to post earnings figures for 2002 on April 8.
The group last month forecast record results in 2002 with revenues above the previous year's 11.2 billion euros and operating profit before interest, tax and amortization (EBITA) above 1999's record 607 million euros.
Sales of the Automotive Systems division jumped 14.6 percent to 4.6 billion euros. Revenues from sales of car tires slipped by about 6 percent to 3.8 billion euros, while truck tire revenues slipped slightly to 1.3 billion.
Its ContiTech business, which supplies components to a number of industries including car, aviation and plant makers, posted broadly flat sales of 1.76 billion euros.
Continental, based in the west German city of Hanover, posted a net loss in 2001 and a drop in EBITA to just 33 million euros as it closed factories around the world as part of a bid to shift production to low-wage regions.
French rival Michelin, Europe's biggest tire maker, said in February its operating profit rose 18 percent in 2002 thanks to price hikes and cost cuts, although sales slipped slightly. It expected tire markets to remain stable in 2003.
Japanese tire giant Bridgestone Corp. said late last month its net profit surged more than 160 percent last year, but forecast a drop in sales and recurring profit for this year with pressure from rising rubber prices and a weakening dollar.