Schaeffler says that in 2011 it significantly exceeded the previous year's record levels of sales and earnings.

For the first time in the company's history, sales topped the EUR10bn mark, increasing by 13 percent to approximately EUR10.7bn, while EBIT improved by 12 percent to approximately EUR1.7bn.

Schaeffler AG CEO Dr. Juergen M. Geissinger stated at the company's financial press conference: "Following our success in 2010, we were able to further improve our earnings across the board in 2011. That demonstrates the dedicated commitment of our employees around the world. Our wide range of components and systems for the automotive and the industrial sectors puts us in a very good strategic position as a globally oriented company."

Schaeffler said that sales increased across all regions and divisions.

The fastest growing region, Asia/Pacific, generated revenue growth of 18 percent, followed by Europe excluding Germany with 14 percent, North America with 12 percent and Germany with 11 percent. Sales at Schaeffler's two divisions Automotive and Industrial, grew considerably faster than their respective markets in 2011. Automotive division sales increased by 13 percent to approximately EUR7.2bn. The Industrial division grew by 15 percent to approximately EUR3.5bn.

EBIT rose by 12 percent from the prior year to approximately EUR1.7bn in 2011. As a result, the company was able to maintain its EBIT margin nearly unchanged from the prior year at 15.8 percent. Net income improved by EUR826m to EUR889 million in 2011 and includes income of EUR324m from the investment in Continental AG.

Free cash flow was put at EUR319m in 2011, following EUR526m in the prior year. The decrease is primarily due to an increase in net working capital resulting from the expansion of the company's business and higher capital expenditures.

Klaus Rosenfeld, CFO, commented: "We were able to further improve the Schaeffler Group's financing situation in 2011. Free cash flow remained at a sound level, and we expect to be able to generate a positive free cash flow in the coming years."

Schaeffler also said that it has been able to increase headcount significantly

The Schaeffler Group employed approximately 74,000 staff worldwide at the end of the year, an increase of approximately 6,500. In Germany, the company's workforce has grown by approximately 1,500 to 29,000 employees.

In light of the company's good results, Schaeffler is again recognizing its employees' performance and commitment in 2011 with a high earnings-based bonus. Eligible employees in Germany will receive EUR1,040 at the end of April.

The company is cautiously optimistic about its development in 2012. "The trend we noted at the beginning of the second half of 2011 has continued. We are currently seeing demand in the European markets weaken. Globally, however, our business is continuing to show a positive trend. Following a moderate start, we are currently expecting global economic growth to gain momentum during the course of 2012," Dr. Geissinger stated.

"We are anticipating particularly North America, but also China, India, and Russia providing impetus for growth. Based on these forecasts, we are currently aiming for sales growth of more than five percent and an EBIT margin of more than 13 percent in 2012. These targets mean our growth will continue to outpace that of our core markets."