Goodyear responds to debt rating reduction

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Standard & Poor's Corp. lowered Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.'s debt rating on Friday. Goodyear didn't waste anytime responding to S&P's action.

In an official statement late Friday, Robert Tieken, Goodyear's executive vice president and chief financial officer, had this to say:

"We are disappointed. Goodyear has plans in place to improve profitability and continue to reduce debt.

"Tough global economic conditions and a highly competitive marketplace provide challenges for Goodyear and the entire transportation industry. During 2001, we took decisive action, focusing on improving liquidity and cash flow generation, introducing new and innovative marketing programs, improving the flexibility of our manufacturing operations and strengthening our cost and investment control processes. These actions are designed to provide solid and sustainable benefits.

"Going forward, the company remains committed to achieving a conservative financial structure through increased revenues, a continued focus on lower costs and working capital management resulting in improved earnings and reduced debt levels."

S&P changed Goodyear's long-term debt rating from "BB+" to "junk status."

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