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Improved Natural Rubber Prices Could Ease Manufacturing

(Clacton, U.K./Tyres & Accessories) If the current raw material price trend continues, it could help improve margins at tyre manufacturers.

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Natural rubber, which accounts for about a quarter of tyre raw material costs, is down over 20% from the all-time high it hit earlier this year.

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Continental executive board member Hans-Joachim Nikolin suggested that while natural rubber price relief was welcome it was unlikely to cancel out the increased prices of steel and other oil-linked raw material prices like synthetic rubber and carbon black.

Duetsche Bank analysts highlighted the fat that natural rubber recently fell below $2/kg – January 2005 levels. This is an almost 30% drop from peak reached 2.5 months ago. “Since spot price has a four to six months lag effect in tyre companies profit and loss, natural rubber purchasing bills could be for the first time in 2007 lower than in 2006,“ the analysts observed.

According to Deustche Bank, Michelin is the most sensitive company to natural rubber price variation. In 2006 their natural rubber-purchasing bill (1.4 billion euros) is expected to be equivalent to their EBIT (1.3 billion euros).

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