Due to the rising demand in the U.S. and Asia, German supplier Continental AG anticipates that business will stay strong throughout the first quarter, CEO Elmar Degenhart said during an interview with German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung. He admitted that the debt crisis will result to declines in the auto sector in Europe but he thinks that the growth in Asia and the U.S. will “more than compensate for weakness in Europe."
Degenhart said that in the fourth quarter, Continental had a strong performance with sales that are slightly higher than the third-quarter figure of around 7.7 billion euros ($10 billion). He said that the demand indicates that this “good level” will persist until March. He said that the company will continue working to cut net debt to become closer to 6 billion euros from the current 7 billion euros.
Continental AG aims that by 2013 (at the latest), the rating agencies will assess the company and they will recommend the purchase of Conti bonds to normal investors.
Degenhart said that a merger with majority shareholder Schaeffler is an option that isn’t currently being discussed. Continental is No. 3 on the list of the top 100 global suppliers by Automotive News. In its last fiscal year, Continental reported global sales to automakers of $24.82 billion. [source: Autonews]