FINDLAY, Ohio (Feb. 6)—After racking up "very solid" numbers for fiscal 2002, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. expects to improve its fiscal 2003 earnings over last year's figures, provided the economy picks up in the second half of this year. For the year ended Dec. 31, Cooper reported increases in net earnings, operating profit, sales and cash flow, while at the same time reducing debt and trimming inventories. "We set certain goals at the beginning of the year, and we achieved them," Thomas A. Dattilo, chairman, president and CEO, said. "Each of these (achievements) is a solid accomplishment. Combined they are outstanding." For the year, Cooper reported $112 million in net earnings on sales of $3.33 billion vs. $18 million profit on sales of $3.15 billion a year ago. For the quarter ended Dec. 31, Cooper reported a 50-percent increase in net income to $23.5 million as sales shot up 8.4 percent to $841.6 million.