FINDLAY, Ohio (May 2) — Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. turned a profit in the first three months of 2007, the first time in two years it hasn't been in the red for a quarter.
Higher sales, better pricing, reduced costs and improved product mix paid off, the company said. President and CEO Roy Armes predicts the firm will have strong financial results for fiscal 2007. Fueling that will be a continuation of implementing its profit improvement initiatives, and also the transition of its Texarkana, Ark., operations to a flex plant system.
The tire maker last reported a quarterly net profit in the first quarter of 2005.
For the quarter ended March 31, Cooper reported operating and net earnings of $30.4 million and $20.8 million, respectively, while sales increased 15.5 percent to $689.1 million. A year ago Cooper reported operating and net losses of $4.34 million and $5.15 million, respectively.
Cooper´s sales and earnings improvements were driven by its international operations, which reported a 79-percent improvement in operating profit to $6.1 million and a 46.3-percent jump in sales to $183 million, on record sales in Europe and the inclusion of a full three months of business by the Cooper Chengshan operations in China. Earnings were affected negatively by expenses related to the start-up of Cooper Kenda joint venture operations in China.
Sales in North America grew 7.8 percent to $534.6 million because of higher prices and better product mix. Unit sales fell about 1 percent during the period, Cooper said, in line with the industry trend.
The North American business generated $28.1 million in operating profits in the quarter, compared with a $5.9 million loss a year ago.