Retail

Cooper Tire reports $3.15 billion in net sales

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. posted net sales of $3.15 billion in 2001, a 9% decrease compared to 2000. Net sales from the company's Tire Group were $1.7 billion, down 5.4%.

The company recorded net income of $18 million compared to $96.7 million in 2000. Income was adversely impacted by expenses related to the tentative settlement of class-action lawsuits filed against the company, plus non-recurring restructuring costs.

"Throughout the year, we remained focused on our plans, our strategies and our execution of those strategies within our core areas of business," said Tom Dattilo, Cooper's chairman, CEO and president. "This focus enabled us to stay on track and make progress toward our goals in spite of some of the most difficult business conditions our industries have ever seen.

"We have very nearly completed our restructuring and the rationalization of our facilities around the world, just as we said we would. The resulting savings are in line with our expectations and will add to our bottom line in the months and years ahead, especially as our new automotive business comes on line."

In the fourth quarter, Cooper posted net sales of $776 million, down 5.2% compared to fourth-quarter 2000 results. Net income was $15.9 million, up 150% from 12 months earlier.

Fourth-quarter net sales for the Tire Group totaled $421 million, down 13%.

"We are cautiously optimistic about our opportunities in 2002," said Dattilo. "New tire business and tire pricing are showing favorable trends for at least the first half of the year.

"Automotive production has been somewhat stronger than anticipated in January, and our restructuring will yield reduced operating costs. While we believe the year will improve quarter by quarter, there is still significant uncertainty in the global economy.

"As we continue our efforts to reduce working capital, we will be working hard to permanently reduce the inventory levels required to maintain our industry-leading service levels and order fill rates," said Dattilo. "This may require us to continue running our plants at less than full capacity for another quarter or two. That could drive operating margins lower in the near term, but the permanent reduction in inventory would yield a higher return on assets in the long term."

Cooper also announced a quarterly dividend of 10.5 cents per share of common stock, payable March 28 to stockholders of record at the close of business March 4, 2002.

Cooper Tire's stock price closed at $14.89 on Wednesday.

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