Cooper's Dattilo: 'Second half will be better'

July 17, 2003

"The second half of the year will be significantly better than the first half," Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo said during a conference call this morning.

Dattilo predicts that raw material costs will drop 2% to 4%, and tire demand will increase. (Raw material prices skyrocketed by 13% during the first six months.)

Sales of Cooper brand tires "will continue to be strong" during the second half, and he believes private label tire sales will grow.

Also during the last six months of 2003, Cooper will be "getting closer" to manufacturing tires in China through joint ventures and other set-ups.

"We will be layering volume in China soon," says Dattilo, "and accelerating that over the next couple of years."

However, he warns that building tires in China "is not a panacea."

Dattilo also says that Cooper will continue to strive for 10% operating margins for the rest of the year.

Tire demand "picked up dramatically" during the last part of the second quarter, he adds.

"June ended with a strong surge."

Cooper announced its Q2 2003 results early this morning.

The Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker reported net income of $13 million, a $26 million drop from Q2 2002.

Cooper also announced a quarterly dividend of 10.5 cents per share on common stock, payable Sept. 29, 2003, to stockholders of record at the close of business on Sept. 2.