ERJ staff report (DS)
Paris -- Hutchinson S.A.'s sales rose 5 percent last year to Euro 3022 million on the strength of increased business in developing markets and despite lackluster growth in North America.
For the year, Hutchinson's growth in North America -- which represents 22 percent of global revenue -- was slowed by the fragile state of the automotive industry, where production dropped 1.5 percent vs. 2006. Hutchinson's sales in North America edged up 1.6 percent to about $920 million, according to the firm's recently released annual report.
By contrast, business in Asia and South America jumped 25 percent to $413 million, or about 10 percent of global revenue, Hutchinson said.
Worldwide automotive sales rose 4.2 percent on the strength of business in the new growth regions of Eastern Europe, South America and Asia. Topping the growth chart was business in the aerospace, industry and baby car sectors at 8 percent or more.
During the year, Hutchinson invested Euro 99 million in capital improvements, down 27.7 percent from 2006.
Among the projects funded during the year are:
* a second plant in Lodz, Poland, and a greenfield plant in Brasov, Romania, for the precision sealing systems and vibration insulation business lines;
* relocated production of O-rings and bonded seals to a new facility on Malta;
At the same time, Hutchinson devoted $205 million to research and development, a level of spending the "confirms Hutchinson's vocation as a tech company," according to Chairman and CEO Pierre-Christian Clout.
Looking forward, Clout said Hutchinson "holds all the trumps to take up the major challenges that lie ahead: improving safety, comfort and performances as well as preserving our planet by design functions and products which limit the impact of human activities on the environment."
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Annual Report from Hutchinson