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Goodyear: Volume down, sales up in North America in 2003

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s overall tire unit volume decreased 1.1% in the fourth quarter of 2003 compared to the same period in 2002. For the year, volume was down 2.5%.

Replacement volume decreased 1.7% for the quarter and 1.5% for the year. Shipments to original equipment customers increased less than 1% for the quarter and decreased 4.5% for the year compared to 2002.

However, sales increased 3.4% for the 2003 fourth quarter and 0.6% for the year compared to 2002. Goodyear says improved pricing and product mix, primarily in the consumer replacement and OE markets, drove the increases.

Goodyear-branded and high performance tire sales remained strong throughout

the year, "solidly supported by Goodyear independent dealers," according to the company.

Segment operating losses were recorded for both the quarter and the year.

North American Tire results, 4Q 2003

* Tire units: 24.5 million.

* Sales: $1.7 billion.

* Operating loss: $15.6 million.

* Operating margin: (0.9%).

North American Tire results, full-year 2003

* Tire units: 101.2 million.

* Sales: $6.7 billion.

* Operating loss: $128.7 million.

* Operating margin: (1.9%).

Cost-saving initiatives "favorably impacted" segment operating results for both the fourth quarter and full year, according to Goodyear. However, "these savings were not enough to offset the impact of higher raw material and health care costs."

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