Cooper reports record second quarter

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.´s sales for the second quarter totaled $992 million, an 18% increase from the same period last year and a new record for the company. Cooper achieved second quarter net income of $33 million, a 163% jump from Q2 2003.

Cooper officials credit improvements to "continued strong sales of new products, higher overall production volumes, and the benefits of on-going lean initiatives.

"Additionally, tire price increases implemented during the first half of the year served to partially off set the negative impact of rising raw material costs."

Second quarter net sales for Cooper´s tire operations totaled $515 million, a new Q2 record and a 19% hike over Q2 2003.

"Demand for Cooper products has increased as a result of new product introductions, specifically in the high performance and light truck market segments, and expanding business with new and existing high-growth customers."

Cooper´s light vehicle replacement tire shipments grew nearly 10% in the United States during the second quarter. The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker´s high performance and ultra-high performance unit sales increased 29%, while unit sales of light truck and SUV tires grew 31%.

Tire Group operating profit totaled $26 million, a 94% increase over last year. Gains were driven by higher unit volumes and improved pricing and product mix, according to Cooper officials.

For the first six months of 2004, Cooper´s overall net sales totaled $2 billion, a 20% increase over the second quarter of 2003. Total net income for the first half was $57 million vs. $28 million during the first six months of 2003.

"In our tire operations, we expect demand for our products to remain strong in the second half of the year as we enter peak selling season," says Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo.

"Our customers continue to want more of our tires than we can currently produce. We are addressing the supply side of the equation through our sourcing arrangements in Asia and by expanding production capacity in all of our North American plants.

"Building on what we accomplished in the second quarter and considering both the challenges and opportunities in the coming months, our expectations for the third quarter are for continued improvement in our tire operations."

Dattilo adds that Cooper is still exploring the possible sale of its automotive components business.

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