Michelin halved net profit last year and has forecast the global tyre market would remain strongly depressed in the first half of this year.


Net profit for 2008 fell 53.8% year on year to EUR357m (US$461.5m) while operating profit before non-recurrent items fell 44.1% to EUR920m on sales off 2.7% to EUR16.41bn from EUR16.87bn, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.


Tyre volume fell 2.9% for the year but fourth quarter demand dropped 16.0%.


Operating margin before non-recurrent items was 5.6%, falling short of the group’s last forecast in October when it expected 7.0-7.5%.


Michelin said that it was working on the basis that the market for tyres would remain strongly depressed in the first half of this year compared with equivalent demand last year, but said that demand might then pick up.


The outlook for coming months remained highly unfavourable, chief executive Michel Rollier told AFP.