Brembo Sees Sales Boost in First Half on U.S. Car Demand

Brembo SpA, the Italian maker of brake systems for Ferrari and Porsche sports cars, is forecasting first-half sales growth as demand jumps in the U.S.

Sales in 2012 were at the high end of Brembo’s forecast range, Executive Deputy Chairman Matteo Tiraboschi said. Brembo, which won an order in January to provide brakes for the General Motors Co. Chevrolet Corvette coming out in 2014, may add a plant in the U.S. as sales gain, he said.

“We started well, and the backlog of orders indicates at least a first-half growth versus last year,” Tiraboschi, 45, said in an interview at Brembo headquarters outside the northern town of Bergamo. “We won important contracts for new platforms with the U.S. Big Three, among others, and this will let us consider investing further to add to our presence.”

Consumers in the U.S. are replacing cars and trucks that have aged to about 11 years on average after deferring purchases following the recession that ended in 2009, bolstering demand at GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the world’s biggest maker of luxury cars, posted record global deliveries last year. The Munich-based company plans more growth in 2013 because of U.S. and Chinese sales.

Brembo rose as much as 2.8 percent to 10.92 euros, the highest intraday price since Jan. 4, 2008, and was trading up 0.8 percent at 3:41 p.m. in Milan. The stock has gained 9.7 percent this year, valuing the manufacturer at 715 million euros ($955 million).

Margin Targets

The company reiterated its forecast for 2012 in November, predicting a sales jump of 9 percent to 10 percent and profitability in line with 2011, when earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization totaled 11.9 percent of revenue. Brembo, which posted nine-month Ebitda of 128.6 million euros ($172 million) on sales of 1.04 billion euros, is scheduled to report 2012 figures on March 5.

Brembo is sticking to a margin target of 14 percent of revenue in 2014, excluding new investments, Tiraboschi said in the interview yesterday.

The component maker has 22 production or business sites in 18 countries, including a plant in Homer, Michigan. Brembo has a target for its factory in the Czech Republic to break even this year, Tiraboschi said. Brembo plans on 90 million euros to 100 million euros in capital spending this year, he said.

European Market

European auto sales fell to the lowest level for a January as economic contractions in the southern part of the region widened to Germany and France. In contrast, deliveries in Europe by BMW and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz brand increased. Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes is also planning to sell more cars in 2013 as it refreshes the E-Class sedan line and overhauls its top-end S-Class cars.

“Luckily for us, European business particularly means high-end products, which we build in the region primarily for German producers for their exports,” Tiraboschi said. “That’s why we recorded growth in Europe too last year,” in addition to gains in Asia.

Plans by Fiat SpA, Italy’s biggest carmaker, to invest in making more upscale models in its home market may bolster Brembo, which also supplies the company’s Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands, Tiraboschi said. Fiat’s strategy of adding 16 higher-end vehicles by 2016 part of its plan to become profitable in Europe. Ferrari is also a Fiat division.

Brembo may consider acquisitions in the high-end sector, especially outside Europe, Tiraboschi said. The manufacturer, which “always attracts interest” from potential buyers, isn’t for sale, he said.

Chairman Alberto Bombassei controls Brembo through his Nuova Four B Srl holding company, which owns a 57 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

(Updates with executive’s comment in seventh paragraph.)
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