Europe Begins To Compete

Crisis spurs revival in efforts to offer good products at good prices


During the Olympics, the ad ran constantly: A red Cadillac ATS speeds through hairpin turns in Morocco's Atlas Mountains as a wide-eyed wingman yells, "We've been going as fast as you possibly can without taking this thing off the side of a cliff!" The disc brakes that make this stunt possible are from Brembo (BRE), a company in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Brembo is not what you picture when you hear people tossing around phrases about Italy like "profligate" and "basket case." It's an elite export powerhouse, with €703 million ($871 million) in revenue in the first six months of 2012, up 11 percent from a year earlier. In Germany, its biggest market, Daimler (DAI) gave it a supplier of the year award in 2011. "The performance of our order backlog allows us to look toward the coming months with confidence," Chairman Alberto Bombassei said on July 31, when he announced rising first-half revenue and profit.