FINDLAY, Ohio (April 22)—Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. reported net income jumped 56 percent to $23.8 million on record sales of $974.5 million for the first quarter although raw material costs continued to rise.
Sales in the company's Tire Group also set a record at $485.1 million, up 22.5 percent from $395.9 million last year. The increase was driven by a 12-percent jump in tire unit volumes and improving customer and product mix, Cooper said.
But tire segment operating profit fell 3.6 percent to $15.7 million from $16.3 million last year. Increasing raw material costs reduced operating profit by $18 million. Product liability insurance and litigation costs were $9 million higher than 2003's first quarter. Cooper said these items essentially offset the positive impact of the higher sales.
Operating profit at Cooper-Standard Automotive surged 69.2 percent to $39.1 million from $23.1 million last year. Net sales in the segment also grew 23 percent to $497 million from $404.2 million in 2003's first quarter. Cooper said it still is exploring the possibility of selling the automotive segment, and it has found "significant interest."