Cooper Spells Out Strategy To Boost Profits to Investors

May 14, 2018

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.’s strategies for boosting profitability include new consumer tire products and sales of Cooper-branded truck tires.

The company outlined its strategies for generating operating profit of 10% to 14% and annual volume growth in the low- to-mid-single digits at its “Investor Day” event in New York City on May 11, 2018.

The event followed Cooper's first quarter 2018 earnings, which fell 74% year over year. The company reported net income of $8 million on net sales of $601 million.

“Three themes—the increased influence of consumers, underlying trends in the auto industry and consolidation in distribution—are driving changes in the tire business and Cooper is well positioned to benefit from them,” said Brad Hughes, president and chief executive officer.

“Our brand strength and attractive value proposition represent a solid foundation to build on with consumers, which is important as we move into additional growth channels.

“Cooper’s emerging OE business will drive enhanced product technology and keep us current with emerging trends such as electric and autonomous vehicles that we believe will be positive for the replacement tire market going forward.

“Finally, recent consolidation in distribution within the industry has created disruption and is pressuring long-standing relationships. Disruption creates opportunities, and Cooper is taking immediate action to benefit.”

New sales channels

Cooper says it is implementing strategic initiatives to leverage its strong position with consumers, who have increased knowledge and power in the tire business.

The company is enhancing its focus on fast- growing premium product lines, accelerating the cadence of new product introductions, such as its upcoming AT3 tire line, and enhancing consumer involvement in product development and testing.

At the same time, Cooper is focused on maximizing its core positions in the independent dealer and national and regional retail channels by enhancing distributor programs and strengthening partnerships. In addition, the company said it is focused on increasing its presence in the fastest-growing sales channels, including mass merchandisers, auto dealers and e-commerce.

Plans for OE business

In Asia, Cooper is continuing to build its OE business. In China, the company has fitments on 47 platforms including five of the top-10 selling SUVs in 2017. In the global OE market, Cooper has established a partnership with Volkswagen and is finalizing collaboration with a premium European auto maker. The company’s OE business gives Cooper early product development insight into changing tire requirements driven by the latest vehicle designs, technologies and trends, as well as strengthens the Cooper brand among consumers and retailers.

Opportunities in tire distribution

Recent consolidation in tire distribution is disrupting the industry landscape, creating opportunity for Cooper. The company said it is in a position to benefit as changes in distribution entities pressure long-standing relationships between distributors and tire manufacturers.

The ocmpany said its core strengths, including brand equity, quality products, and strategic relationships with national and regional distributors, will allow it to harness certain opportunities and Cooper is actively pursuing a joint action plan with key distributors and a conquest plan to increase its associate dealer program exposure and participation.

New financial targets

As previously reported, Cooper’s results for 2017 and the first quarter of this year were affected by market headwinds related to raw materials, increased competitor promotional activity and generally weak consumer sell-out. Management expects that the market environment will stabilize in the future and that the key strategic initiatives intended to enhance Cooper’s performance will translate into tangible financial benefits in the mid-term. Cooper has announced five-year financial targets of annual unit volume growth in the low- to mid-single digits and operating profit margin in the range of 10 to 14%, as well as return on invested capital (ROIC) of 14 to 16%.

Investor Day webcast archive

The audio webcast of Cooper’s Investor Day event and corresponding presentation slides are available at the Investors section of its website and will be archived  for 90 days.

For recent news on Cooper see:

"Cooper's 1Q 2018 Net Income Drops 74%"

"Cooper Puts Its Name on Three TBR Tire Lines"