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Cooper cautiously optimistic about next year

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Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. "sees the environment improving somewhat" during the first part of 2002, Cooper Chairman, President and CEO Tom Dattilo announced during a press conference this morning.

"The outlook for tire pricing remains stable," says Dattilo, who expects Cooper's light truck tire growth to "jumpstart" its passenger tire sales, including low-end products.

The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker reported third-quarter sales, profit and income losses earlier today, though its light truck tire business grew 4% during that period.

Cooper's total tire unit volume was down "a little over 8%" during Q3. "Passenger (tires) got hit pretty hard."

Dattilo called September "a terrible month... the industry was down 18% in passenger tires and (down) 19% in light truck tires."

He expects the fourth quarter to yield better results.

Cooper's restructuring is coming along as planned, Dattilo says. "Through attrition, we've reduced head count by more than 100 since last year."

"Benefits (of Cooper's restructuring) will increase... we'll continue to execute our plans.

"We remain optimistic about the opportunities in 2002."

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