Continental has posted a strong start to the year, significantly increasing its profits. In the first quarter of 2014, net income attributable to the shareholders of the parent grew by 33.3% to EUR588m (US$817.7m).

"In the opening months of the year, we once again demonstrated that we are very capable of combining our growth with value creation," said Continental's CEO Dr. Elmar Degenhart. "We intend to continue along our current path in the coming months, too."

Continental has recently raised its outlook of comfortably achieving an adjusted EBIT margin of more than 10% in the current year to more than 10.5%. At the same time, the sales target of approximately EUR35bn for fiscal 2014 was confirmed.

In the first three months of 2014, consolidated sales rose by 4.4% year-on-year to EUR8.4bn. Adjusted for effects relating to the scope of consolidation and to exchange rates, which had a significant negative impact again in the first quarter, sales increased by as much as 8.3%.

EBIT rose by almost 21% year-on-year to EUR903m as at 31 March. This corresponds to a margin of 10.8% after 9.3% in the previous year. Adjusted EBIT for the first quarter climbed by 19.7% year on year to EUR953m in the first quarter. The adjusted EBIT margin was 11.4% and was thus above the 10% mark after the first three months of 2013.

"To enable Continental's stronger operating performance and its improved rating to be reflected in the financing conditions as well, we replaced the previous loan volume of over EUR4.5bn at the end of April with a new syndicated loan in the same amount with 31 international banks. This also gives us more leeway with regard to maturities," said CFO Wolfgang Schäfer. The new loan consists of a term loan of EUR1.5bn and a revolving credit line of EUR3bn. The interest margin has now been reduced by almost half.

The Automotive Group generated sales of EUR5.1bn in the first three months of 2014. At 8.2%, the adjusted EBIT margin was higher than the previous year's level of 7.2%.

The Rubber Group also generated a slight increase in sales to EUR3.3bn in the first quarter and its adjusted EBIT margin of 17.2% was up on the previous year's level of 15.2%.