Goodyear finished 2004 in the black following strong 4Q

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Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. reported net income of $115 million on record sales of $18.4 billion for 2004. That compares to an $807 million net loss on sales of $15.1 billion for 2003.

Worldwide tire volume in 2004 totaled 223 million units, up 5% from 2003.

Goodyear says its 2004 sales benefited from the following:

* the consolidation of two subsidiaries in accordance with U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board Interpretation No. 46 (FIN 46);

* improved pricing and product mix in all of the company's business units;

* higher volume; and

* favorable currency translation (the company estimates the impact of currency translation contributed approximately $540 million to its 2004 sales).

The company also achieved stronger year-over-year segment operating income for the sixth consecutive quarter, and positive net income for the third consecutive quarter.

The company reported net income of $125 million on sales of $4.8 billion for the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, 2004. The sales total was a record for any quarter in the company's history, and an increase of 24% versus the $3.9 billion sales posted during the same period a year ago.

Tire unit volume in the fourth quarter was 55 million units, compared with 53 million units in 4Q 2003.

"The success of 2004's new product introductions, price increases, richer product and brand mix, and cost reductions are reflected in these fourth quarter results," says Robert Keegan, chairman and chief executive officer.

"During the quarter, segment operating income increased more than 50% compared to the 2003 quarter, demonstrating our success in focusing on profitable growth and share gains in targeted markets."

Fourth-quarter 2004 results included after-tax gains of $157 million from a previously announced insurance settlement, $19 million from a lawsuit settlement, $10 million from net tax adjustments and $7 million from net reversals of rationalization charges.

They also included after-tax charges of $27 million for general and product liability-discontinued products, $12 million from asset sales (including a write-down of the assets of the company's natural rubber plantation), $9 million related to external professional fees associated with Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and the restatement, and $3 million for accelerated depreciation.

Goodyear's New York Stock Exchange price closed at $14.04 a share on March 16. That compares to a 52-week high and low of $16.09 and $7.06, respectively.

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