Continental Lays Firm Foundation for the Achievement of Annual Targets with Successful First Quarter

(PresseBox) (Hannover, ) .
- Automotive supplier increases sales by 23% to more than €7.3 billion
- EBIT rises to €634 million / 8.6% sales margin
- Impact of raw material costs, particularly for natural rubber, still a challenge
- Net income up by 62% to €368 million due to tax income

In the first three months of 2011, the Continental Corporation posted the most successful quarter since it acquired Siemens VDO at the end of 2007, setting new record highs for sales, EBIT and profit. "With the good start to the new year, we have laid the foundation to comfortably achieve our targets for the year, as things look at present," said Continental Executive Board chairman Dr. Elmar Degenhart on Thursday in Hanover. "We also assume that we will spend more on investments than the €1.5 billion currently planned, so that we can boost our dynamic and profitable growth even further. Nonetheless, we still want to generate at least €500 million free cash flow and reduce our net indebtedness to below €7 billion by the end of the year."

The international automotive supplier increased its sales in the first three months of 2011 by 23% year-on-year to more than €7.3 billion. At the same time, EBIT rose 28% to approximately €634 million, with an EBIT margin of 8.6% after 8.2% a year ago. The corporation's adjusted EBIT (adjusted in particular for acquisition-related amortization and special effects) amounted to about €734 million after €607 million a year ago, with a nearly unchanged margin of 10% on a higher sales level.

In the first quarter of 2011, the net income attributable to the shareholders of the parent rose 62% year-on-year to €368 million, corresponding to earnings per share of €1.84 after €1.14 one year ago. "Here, however, it must be taken into account that we were able to recognize a one-off tax income of €68.2 million. This also had a substantial effect on the tax rate in the first quarter, which at 17.2% is considerably lower than the rate of 35% or so we are expecting for the year as a whole," explained Continental CFO Wolfgang Schäfer.

Schäfer also pointed out that on March 31, 2011, the company had at its disposal liquidity reserves totaling nearly €3.9 billion, consisting of cash and cash equivalents of almost €1.5 billion as well as unused credit lines totaling some €2.4 billion. This made it possible for Continental to reduce the credit volume of the VDO facility by €500 million to currently €6 billion as part of the modifications to the VDO facility that went into effect at the beginning of April. Owing to seasonal effects, net indebtedness increased slightly to €7.6 billion compared with year-end 2010. At 117%, the gearing ratio at the end of March was however nearly unchanged from the end of 2010. "We are still assuming that the ratio could fall below 100% by the end of the year. The goal is to achieve 70% in the medium term," said Schäfer.

Degenhart pointed out that the company has once again increased its workforce substantially: "After creating some 14,000 jobs worldwide already in 2010, we added another 6,500 in the first quarter of this year. Of those new jobs, a good 1,600 were in Germany and nearly 1,000 in China, where our workforce is growing as planned at an above-average rate. All in all, we will create another several thousand jobs worldwide this year."

Degenhart also stressed that both the Automotive Group and Rubber Group contributed to the corporation's strong growth. The Automotive Group's first quarter sales were up by 20% year-on-year to about €4.5 billion. An EBIT of €257 million was reported after €182 million one year ago. The Rubber Group posted sales of about €2.8 billion, representing an increase of 27%. The Rubber Group's reported EBIT rose from approximately €313 million one year ago to nearly €393 million in the first quarter of 2011.

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Continental Reifen Deutschland GmbH
Büttner Straße 25
D-30165 Hannover
Kristin Bartels
Continental AG
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Dr. Felix Gress
Continental AG
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Hannes Boekhoff
Continental AG
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