BERLIN -- Continental has reinforced expectations for higher sales this year as it says it will benefit from further growth in global auto production and returns on investments in self-driving technology.
"The start into the new year has confirmed the expectations set for 2017," Continental said on Thursday, citing a goal to raise sales by more than 6 percent to over 43 billion euros ($45.28 billion) despite rising raw material prices.
The maker of driver-assistance technology and fuel-injection systems said adjusted operating profit eased 0.6 percent to 4.34 billion euros.
Continental expects to keep its 2017 margin on adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) above 10.5 percent, after 10.8 percent last year.
Continental is bolstering its electronics expertise as carmakers including Volkswagen AG and Ford Motor Co. raise spending on battery-powered and driverless cars in response to tougher anti-pollution rules and the emergence of new rivals such as Google.
The supplier said it plans to increase the dividend to 4.25 euros per share from 3.75 euros in 2015.
The group already reported core results in January.
Meanwhile, a Continental executive said the supplier has no plans at present for any larger takeover deal but said it could shoulder an acquisition worth over 2 billion euros ($2.11 billion).
"We are in principle ready to also carry out a somewhat larger acquisition if it's the right step strategically for Continental," finance chief Wolfgang Schaefer told Reuters.
But Continental is not in talks at present over any target of greater size, Schaefer said in an interview on Thursday after the company released 2016 earnings.
Continental wants to reduce its reliance on the volatile cyclical business of carmakers which accounts for the bulk of its sales and is keen to invest in new mobility services.
The company's last major deal was the purchase of U.S. rubber company Veyance Technologies in 2014 for 1.4 billion euros. Continental had 6 billion euros of liquidity reserves at the end of 2016.