CLEVELAND (Dec. 12, 2008)—Tire industry replacement shipments tumbled 25 percent in November, leading analyst Saul Ludwig to reduce his estimates for Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s fourth-quarter and year-end results.
Ludwig, of KeyBanc Capital Markets Inc., predicted that Cooper's fourth-quarter loss will be $1.31 per share instead of $1.02 per share and its 2008 loss will be $2.60 per share instead of $2.30 per share. KeyBanc is maintaining Cooper's hold rating.
He also estimated Cooper's year-end cash at $210 million, down from $264 million on Sept. 30.
Additionally, Ludwig's report stated that Cooper may have experienced a 12-percent volume drop in 2008 as its product mix (heavy in light truck tires and private brand tires) was the hardest hit this year. Industry shipments overall this year have fallen 6 percent, Ludwig estimated.
Cooper's investments in China also are taking a hit from excess capacity and low price offers from Chinese tire manufacturers, the report stated. China recently raised the tax credit on exported tires to 9 percent from 5 percent.
Ludwig said dealers' support of Cooper remains a bright spot.
“Fill rates are good, product quality is good and the dealers want (Cooper) to not only survive but to succeed,” Ludwig wrote. “Therein is (Cooper's) greatest opportunity for improvement if the company can drive costs down and price its products more attractively so dealers want to buy even more from it. The jury is still out on the company's ability to make that happen.”