Cooper´s production capacity remains ´stressed´

July 22, 2004

"We could sell more tires if we had them," Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. Chairman, CEO and President Tom Dattilo told investors this morning during a conference call.

In response to growing demand, Cooper is adding new equipment at its domestic tire manufacturing facilities "and much more is on the way," says Dattilo. "Implementation will continue through 2005."

In addition, Cooper plans to expand its partnerships with Kenda Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd. and Hangzhou (China) Rubber Co. Ltd.

"Progress on (our) joint venture with Kenda is slightly behind," admits Dattilo. The companies announced the venture -- the building of a radial passenger and light truck tire plant in China -- in December 2003. Construction was scheduled to start in mid-2004.

However, the first shipments of radial medium truck tires from Hangzhou´s facility in China "are in transit."

Cooper signed a contract with Hangzhou last October to source 250,000 to 300,000 truck tires from the Chinese manufacturer each year.

The tires were previously made at Cooper´s Albany, Ga., plant.

Dattilo says Cooper will bring in under one million tires from Asia this year.

Overall, the Findlay, Ohio-based tiremaker´s fill rate during the second quarter was "in excess of 80%. We think it will increase a little bit in the third and fourth quarters.

"We´ll probably sell every tire we make during the second half of the year."