* Sees global car output rising to 100-105 mln by 2020
* Raises 2015 sales guidance to 37.5 bln euros on Veyance deal
* Says currency effects could add extra 1 bln euros to sales
* Remains on lookout for deals (Adds comments from CEO and analyst, acquisition plans, shares and peers)
By Andreas Cremer
BERLIN, March 5 (Reuters) - German automotive supplier Continental expects sales to jump by almost half by 2020 as car output rises and demand grows for electronic components and safety technology.
The greater use of electronics and software in vehicles, and the ability of cars to connect to smartphones and other devices, is providing automakers, suppliers and technology firms with new business opportunities.
Continental said on Thursday sales could rise to more than 50 billion euros ($55.24 billion) by 2020 from 34.5 billion in 2014, predicting a double-digit profit margin that was broadly unchanged at 11.3 percent last year.
“This is an ambitious goal as the environment is set to remain volatile for the foreseeable future,” Chief Executive Elmar Degenhart said at a press conference.
The auto parts and tyre maker hopes to benefit from acquisitions and improving car markets, Degenhart said. The firm expects global output of vehicles weighing up to 6 metric tonnes to rise to as many as 105 million units by 2020 from 89 million this year.
Hanover-based Continental has had a “good start” to 2015, Degenhart said, counting on rising car production in China, North America and Europe to spur business. The weaker euro versus the dollar and other positive exchange rate effects could add an additional 1 billion euros to sales.
The group raised its sales target for 2015 by almost 9 percent to about 37.5 billion euros from a January goal of more than 36 billion euros, taking into account the integration of Veyance Technologies which may contribute about 1.3 billion euros.
“Continental is very strongly positioned in lucrative markets and growing technology segments,” said Hamburg-based M.M. Warburg analyst Marc-Rene Tonn who recommends holding the stock.
Continental shares jumped as much as 3.7 percent after publication of the sales outlook and were trading up 2.3 percent at 215.20 euros as of 1112 GMT.
The group remains on the lookout for further acquisitions after closing the Veyance deal in January, though no major deal should be expected in coming months, Degenhart said.
“A purchase in Asia would be very sensible,” the CEO said.
The competitive landscape of the automotive-parts industry is shifting as the world’s biggest automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen, increasingly use common or modular parts in their vehicles, giving an upper hand to big global suppliers such as Continental which have a wide range of technologies.
Continental’s peers provided a mixed earnings picture.
French tyre maker Michelin is accelerating cost cuts after reporting a drop in 2014 net income.
Unlisted Robert Bosch expects higher sales and profit margins this year because of the shift to more fuel-efficient and safer cars.
$1 = 0.9051 euros Reporting by Andreas Cremer; editing by Jason Neely and Elaine Hardcastle