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Cooper continues shift to UHP, high-end

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Ultra-high performance and premium-level tire sales are up at Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. while broad-line tires are making up a smaller percentage of the company's sales, Cooper Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo announced earlier today.

Cooper's overall shipments during the fourth quarter of 2004 were down "as a result of lower shipments in the economy and broad-line tire categories," according to Cooper officials.

Dattilo told investors that Cooper's efforts in 2005 will include "elevating the Cooper brand" and concentrating on UHP and high-end tires.

The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker has added equipment at its North American plants to help them churn out increasingly complex products, he said.

"Significant expansion projects" will continue throughout the year at Cooper's Albany, Ga., facility.

Cooper achieved total net sales of $541 million during the fourth quarter, a 5% jump from fourth quarter 2003 levels.

For the full year of 2004, Cooper's continuing operations generated net sales of $2.1 billion, a 12% increase over 2003.

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