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Cooper to focus on HP tires during second half

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. will place "greater emphasis on speed-rated products" during the second half of 2002, Cooper Chairman, President and CEO Tom Dattilo told analysts during a late-morning press conference today.

Cooper also "will expand (its) product offering at the high end of the spectrum" and reposition its entry-level tires.

The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker reported record second quarter net income of $39 million, a 113% increase over the same period last year.

North American tire unit sales are up 4% this year so far, according to Dattilo. "We're confident they'll remain there."

He also reported that Cooper's tire stockpile is down 500,000 units from last year as part of the company's inventory reduction initiative.

The tiremaker reduced its debt by $29 million during Q2, as well.

Dattilo predicts that Cooper "will outperform the market during the second half.

"We think the (overall tire) market will be up 2% to 3% and we'll be up 4% to 6%."

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