Cooper hits all-time sales record

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s sales for the first quarter of 2004 totaled $974 million, a 23% increase from the first quarter of 2003 and an all-time record for the company.

Cooper's Q1 2004 net income increased 56% to $24 million vs. $15 million during Q1 2003.

Sales for Cooper's tire operations achieved a first quarter record of $485 million, an increase of 23% over the same period last year.

This increase was driven by 12% growth in tire unit volumes and "improving customer and product mix," according to Cooper officials.

Cooper's net sales of high performance and ultra-high performance tires increased by 47% during the first quarter. The company's sales of P-metric SUV tires grew by 52% and its light truck tire sales increased by 27% over Q1 2003 levels.

The Tire Group's operating profit for the quarter was slightly less than $16 million vs. slightly more than $16 million during Q1 2003.

"Increasing raw materials costs reduced operating profit by $18 million during the quarter and product liability insurance and litigation costs were $9 million higher compared to the first quarter of last year," say Cooper officials.

The Tire Group continues to operate at nearly 100% of current production capacity "and is engaged in capacity expansion projects in all plants in North America, as well as in Asia in order to meet future projected demand."

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