Continental expects strong demand in the first quarter of 2012 image

German auto parts supplier Continental AG is forecasting good results for the first quarter of 2011, as it expects strong demand from the United States and Asia.

According to Continental CEO Elmar Degenhart, quoted by Suddeutsche Zeitung, the auto sector will be affected in Europe by the debt crisis, but growth in the U.S. and Asia will compensate European losses. „Sure, we will see declines in Europe because of the debt crisis. But there are opportunities for growth in America, and we will grow further in Asia. Both should more than compensate for weakness in Europe,” Elmar Degenhart told Suddeutsche Zeitung.

Continental had a strong fourth quarter with sales just above the third-quarter level of about 7.7 billion euros ($10 billion). „Demand from customers shows that we will continue at this good level until March,” Degenhart added. He also said Continental will continue efforts to reduce its net debt to €6 billion from the current level of about €7 billion.

The executive said that by 2013 the company expects to have an assesment by the rating agencies that will allow recommending the purchase of Continental bonds to investors.