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Cooper plans to increase capacity up to 15%

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. plans to add 10% to 15% capacity at its manufacturing facilities over the next two years, Roy Armes, the company's chairman, CEO and president, told investors earlier today, May 5.

"We think we can get (an additional) 10% to 15% out of our current facilities," said Armes. "That's without investing in brick and mortar. We'll continue to identify ways to add capacity."

He added that Cooper will continue to increase the number of tires produced by its joint ventures in Mexico and China.

The company's "house brands continue to do very well against the market. We feel that we are going to continue this momentum throughout the year."

Earlier today, the Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker posted net income of $12 million on net sales of $754 million for the first quarter of 2010. Respectively, these numbers represent a $33 million and $183 million improvement over 1Q 2009 results.

Results were driven by improved volumes and increased utilization of manufacturing capacity, according to Cooper officials.

Cooper's North American Tire unit posted sales of $532 million during the first quarter, up significantly from its 1Q 2009 net sales of $439 million. The division's operating profit rose by $17 million.

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