Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s plants in the United States are expected to "return to reasonably good utilization rates as we exit the second quarter," Cooper President and CEO Brad Hughes said during the company's first quarter investor call.

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s plants in the United States are expected to "return to reasonably good utilization rates as we exit the second quarter," says Hughes. -

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s plants in the United States are expected to "return to reasonably good utilization rates as we exit the second quarter," says Hughes.

Cooper reopened its plants in in Findlay, Ohio; Clarksdale and Tupelo, Miss.; and Texarkana, Ark., at the end of April. Combined, the factories have a total production capacity of 97,000 units when operating at full throttle, according to MTD data.

"We're going to need to build back some inventory levels as we begin to approach the strong selling season," Hughes said.

"We're looking at being in a position where we can bring (production) back up with demand."

Cooper posted a first quarter net loss of $12 million compared with net income of $7 million for the same period last year. (For MTD’s full report, click here.)

Hughes said that the second quarter "will be our most challenging quarter of the year" due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We think that what we've done to manage our cash position will allow us to come back strong. We are confident Cooper will weather the coronavirus crisis."

In the company's first quarter financial release, issued earlier today, Hughes said that over the past two years, Cooper has transformed "into a consumer-driven organization with Cooper products now available where consumers want to buy tires.

"We believe that our value proposition - high quality tires at an affordable price - will be even more compelling for consumers in the future economy."

During the investor call, he mentioned that "what we're hearing from a number of our larger customers... (is that) it appears (consumers are looking for) better value and as customers return to buying tires, we feel we will be well-positioned. The expectation is that when there is real volume, that will continue."

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