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Cooper's Dattilo: "We intend to keep momentum going during Q2."

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. anticipates a "good tire season" on the heels of sales, profit and market share gains during the first quarter, according to Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo.

Cooper's replacement passenger tire sales grew 17% during Q1 while its replacement light truck tire sales jumped 8%, well above industry averages, Dattilo says.

The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker also reported significant market share increases for its Cooper and Mastercraft brands.

"There was a tremendous amount of pent-up demand," Dattilo says.

Cooper continued its inventory reduction efforts during the first quarter without missing any production days to reduce its stockpile by one million tires or $40 million.

"Plans are on track to reduce tire inventories by 20 million to 50 million (units) by year's end."

Cooper will cut costs further throughout the year by selling six or seven facilities, maybe more.

Dattilo says tire sales during the first few weeks of April have been "a little light" due to Q1 specials, sales incentives and other factors, "which is typical."

Traditionally, the second half of April, plus May and June, "are much stronger."

He also reports that Cooper is pursuing "several other (tire) opportunities," but did not disclose specifics.

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