FINDLAY, Ohio (Oct. 17)—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. was able to meet consensus earnings estimates for the third quarter on the strength of its automotive business. Total company sales for the quarter rose 6 percent to $839 million. The tire and auto parts maker reported net income of $23 million, compared with the loss of $20 million it took in the third quarter of 2001 after charges related to a proposed settlement of class action litigation. Cooper-Standard Automotive sales jumped 14 percent to $381 million. Cooper Tire´s net sales increased only slightly to $464 million in the quarter from $462 in the third quarter of 2001. Combined, Cooper´s North American passenger and light truck tire sales declined just 1 percent compared to an overall replacement tire industry decline of nearly 8 percent, Cooper said, but its increased sales in the quarter were in lower margin products. Besides weaker product mix, the tire segment margins suffered from decreased customer demand and unusual operating inefficiencies tied to decreased production at its plants that cost Cooper another $5 million.