NEW YORK (Feb. 14)—Goodyear expects to return profits to "their traditional level" in coming years through continued sales gains, improved cost controls, reduced staffing levels, more efficient global product planning, and more efficient purchasing through electronic commerce and other measures, Chairman Samir Gibara told analysts today. Gibara´s comments were made against the backdrop of a fourth-quarter 2000 net loss and an 83.4-percent drop in fiscal 2000 net profits. Among specific initiatives Goodyear is planning: cutting its work force by 7,200 this year, yielding $150 million in benefits this year and $250 million annually thereafter; streamlining global product planning, a move that should yield $400 million in savings over four years; and implementing RubberNetwork.com, an industry cooperative materials sourcing service that could produce $200 million in savings over five years. For 2001, Goodyear expects the North American economy to make a "soft landing," with a weak original equipment business punctuating the first-half malaise, Gibara said. The manufacturing industry in America already is operating in a recession mode, he said.