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Cooper anticipates even better second quarter

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Coming off the best quarter in its history in terms of sales, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is continuing several initiatives into the second quarter and beyond.

Growing its high performance and ultra-high performance tire business is at the top of the list, Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo told analysts during a teleconference this morning.

"We're ramping up our capacity to produce HP and UHP products," he says.

Cooper wants to increase its HP and UHP share to 15%.

Other strategies include:

* more off-shore production. "We're moving forward with our Asian outtake and joint venture programs;"

* inventory adjustment. Cooper's inventory levels are "much lower" than they were one year ago. The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker's production is nearing 100%;

* slashing costs. "We have to be zealous in cutting costs in our operations," says Dattilo. Cooper achieved $30 million in lean savings during Q1 2004;

* boosting prices when necessary. "Price increases continue to be an important part of our strategy."

In addition, Cooper officials believe raw material prices won't have as big of an impact during the second quarter as in previous periods.

They expect raw material rates to rise around 2% during Q2.

Cooper achieved sales of $974 million during the first quarter, an all-time record for the company.

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