Cooper remains cautiously optimistic for industry growth in 2008

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s market share remained stable during 2007, the company reported during a conference call to discuss its fourth quarter 2007 financial results. Roy Armes, Cooper's chairman of the board, CEO and president, says for 2008, "our outlook is cautiously optimistic."

The company expects a 2% to 3% growth in the industry this year.

Cooper's North American Tire segment continues to set sales records, he says, and the "next phase will be important building block to our success."

Moving forward, company officials believe there is still pent-up tire demand, as consumers continue to put off purchases.

The company saw an improved product mix during 2007, officials say, and point to the Cooper CS4 Premium Touring tire as continuing to have a strong, positive impact on the company's bottom line.

Cooper also has been able to deliver on global cost savings in sales, marketing and logistics segments. The company has modified its advertising approach, consolidated its warehousing, and has gotten more efficient in the way it distributes tires.

"We continue to be the easiest tire company to do business with," says Armes.

Raw material prices continue to be high and are expected to go even higher in the future, the officials say. Availability also will continue to be scrutinized. The need for future tire price increases continues to be examined.

In China, the company is spending money to promote the Cooper brand. It also is looking at improving its "respectable" market share in the truck and bus tire segment in China.

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