Goodyear's Keegan: 'We're still a work in progress'

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"Our first quarter appears to be off to a good start" following a staggering rebound during 2004, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Chairman and CEO Bob Keegan told investors this morning during a conference call.

Goodyear reported net income of $115 million on record sales of $18.4 billion last year versus a net loss of $807 million suffered during 2003.

The $18.4 billion sales figure is a record for the Akron, Ohio-based tiremaker.

Keegan reports that demand for new Goodyear products like its Assurance and SilentArmor tires "is exceeding original forecasts. We sold over two million Assurance tires last year. Order rates on new (SilentArmor) products have exceeded that of Assurance last year."

Goodyear's revenue-per-tire increased 8% in 2004, according to Keegan.

He told investors the company has come a long way over the past two years. Back then, "we realized we had considerable assets in our company and that the market was presenting us with attractive trends. But we weren't taking advantage of those opportunities.

"Our poor performance and pain were self-inflicted."

As 2005 progresses, "we are building momentum in every one of our businesses."

In addition to flag brand growth, Goodyear's private and associate brand business "has been stablizied due to our selective strategy."

"We want to grow in targeted segments with targeted brands and targeted customers," says Goodyear Executive Vice President Richard Kramer.

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