AKRON—Having found a way to fund its U.S. pension plan obligations without taking on new debt, Goodyear is poised move ahead.
That's the message Chairman and CEO Richard Kramer told shareholders at the tire maker's recent annual meeting in Akron, as he emphasized that the company's focus is on investing in its business and providing shareholders with returns.
Last year Goodyear recorded $1.6 billion in segment operating income, the highest in the firm's 115-year history, which coupled with $1 billion in free cash flow generated throughout the year allowed the company to reach two significant milestones: reinstating a dividend on its common stock after 10 years and fully funding its U.S. pension plans, Kramer said.
“Without the shadow of the unfunded pension obligation, we can now both invest in our business and provide returns to our shareholders,” Kramer said.
“We're confident that the soundness of our strategy, our ability to execute against that strategy and the performance of our teams around the globe will continue to provide momentum toward our destination of delivering sustainable economic value for the long term.”
Kramer said Goodyear was recognized recently by Fortune magazine as the world's “Most Admired” motor vehicle parts company, based on factors including financial performance, innovation, product quality and social responsibility.
“The companies on the Fortune list share many of the same attributes—sustainable earnings, a focus on innovation, strong cultures and great brands,” he said. “We see this honor as another validation of our progress and our competitive advantages.”
During the meeting, shareholders re-elected 12 members of the company's board of directors to new one-year terms, Goodyear said, and also voted to ratify the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers L.L.P. as the company's independent registered public accounting firm for 2014.
A shareholder proposal to appoint an independent board chairman was not approved. In an advisory vote, shareholders approved the compensation of the company's named executive officers.