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Armes: 'Cooper will focus on profitability in 2007'

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"Our focus will be on managing profitability rather than pursuing market share growth at any cost," Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. CEO and President Roy Armes told analysts earlier today, March 1, during a conference call that discussed Cooper's fourth quarter and full year 2006 results.

"Our outlook for 2007 is positive," said Armes. He added that Cooper will continue to concentrate on cutting costs in North America, and will save more than $100 million this year, including some $20 million during the first quarter.

"I'm more optimistic about our opportunities today than when I started in this role two months ago. We have the right alignment to achieve our goals."

Cooper posted net sales of $739 million for the fourth quarter of 2006, a 29% increase over the same period in 2005 and a record for the company. Cooper's operating profit for the fourth quarter totaled $28 million, a $22 million jump from 4Q 2005.

For the full year of 2006, Cooper posted sales of $2.7 billion, a 24% increase from 2005. However, the Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker absorbed an operating loss of $10 million and a net loss of $79 million versus an operating profit of $26 million and a net loss of $9 million the previous year.

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