AKRON (Jan. 24)—Goodyear is surprised and disappointed by its recent debt rating downgrade by Standard & Poor's Corp., but is intent on continuing with its plan to cut costs and "get lean." Standard & Poor's reduced the Akron tire maker's rating by two levels on Jan. 18 to "BB+" from "BBB." The move places the company's senior unsecured debt into a tenuous area—most often referred to as "junk"—that leaves serious questions about Goodyear as an investment opportunity and the firm's cost of borrowing. Daniel DiSenso, a Standard & Poor's analyst, said the lowered rating reflects the company's weak operating performance and profit potential. Goodyear did much to make improvements toward achieving profitability in 2001, cutting production capacity and jobs, raising prices, increasing volume and reducing inventory. But Standard & Poor's indicated the cuts and other measures haven't been enough to offset the economic recession or the nature of the tire industry.