FRANKFURT -- German tire and car parts maker Continental AG will grow faster than automotive sector output in the years ahead, Chief Executive Manfred Wennemer told an investment conference on Tuesday.
"Also in coming years -- based on the orders we have in our books -- we will grow considerably faster than the relevant car (sector) production," he said, noting Continental grew some 7 percent faster than relevant automotive production in 2004.
Eager to dispel investor jitters that its momentum might be slowing, Wennemer stuck to the company's 2005 earnings forecast.
"I repeat at the end of the day we will achieve the overall guidance, the overall objective of 2005, namely to beat the record level of 2004 in EBIT and in sales," he said at the Deutsche Bank event carried on the Internet.
First-quarter operating profit at Continental missed expectations, briefly knocking its stock, but it has since recovered to narrowly lag Nokian as the second-best performer in the DJ Stoxx European car sector index this year.
Investors were concerned that almost stagnant like-for-like sales and a higher-than-expected earnings contribution from its newly acquired Phoenix unit meant the rest of Continental was starting to suffer from a weak automotive industry.
Continental has said it will be able to make up for the higher cost of raw materials, which it has estimated will hit operating profit by some 120 million to 150 million euros this year.