* Michelin Q3 sales rise 5.7 pct
* Raises 2012 cash-flow goal again
* Resilient pricing a positive surprise -analyst
(Adds analyst and company comments, details, background)
By Laurence Frost
PARIS, Oct 22 French tyremaker Michelin
said quarterly revenue grew 5.7 percent and raised its
cash-flow target for a second straight month as strong pricing
and currency effects offset a decline in sales volumes.
Revenue rose to 5.44 billion euros ($7.11 billion) in the
third quarter, the company said in a statement on Monday.
Michelin said it was on course to meet its full-year goal of
a "clear increase in operating income" from the 1.945 billion
euros achieved in 2011, helped by a 200-300 million decline in
raw-material costs for the second half.
The company also pledged positive free cash flow of 400-500
million euros, excluding gains from a Paris real-estate deal. In
July, Michelin had forecast merely "positive" cash flow for
2012, before raising the goal to 300-400 million last month.
Michelin's revenue and outlook bucked the auto-market slump
in its home European markets, where sales to car manufacturers
nonetheless plunged 6 percent in the quarter and replacement
tyre sales dropped 8 percent. Truck tyre sales also fell.
"The key for us in these numbers is the sequential
development in price and mix, which did beat our expectations,"
said London-based Credit Suisse analyst David Arnold.
The improved mix - reflecting a shift in demand toward more
expensive tyre models - delivered a 2.7 percent revenue lift,
North America also helped Michelin to resist Europe's gloom,
with a 14 percent jump in sales to automakers, while global
revenue from specialty tyres for planes and earthmoving
equipment surged 16 percent.
The euro's decline against other currencies helped overcome
a 3.5 percent quarterly decline in Michelin's overall sales
volume, measured in metric tons.
Michelin shares closed 1.5 percent lower at 61.86 euros in
Paris before the sales announcement. The stock has advanced 38
percent this year, outpacing a 23 percent gain on the 14-member
Stoxx Europe 600 autos and parts index.
The Clermont-Ferrand, France-based tyremaker aims to
generate operating profit of 2.9 billion euros in 2015, it said
last month, upgrading a previous medium-term target of 2.5
($1 = 0.7651 euros)
(Editing by James Regan)