Goodyear: More Plants to Close


AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. will close more plants as it looks to continue reducing tire production it considers high cost, the company said Friday after announcing a $174 million first-quarter loss.

Previous plant closings and job cuts are not the end of the company's scaling back, Robert J. Keegan, chairman and chief executive officer, told analysts in a conference call

Goodyear spokesman Keith Price said the company will close more plants, but it has not identified which ones, how many or where.

Goodyear is closing a tire plant in Tyler, Texas, by the end of the year, but that is considered part of previously announced reductions, Price said.

The company said the loss for the quarter that ended March 31 equaled 96 cents per share and was caused by continuing costs from a settled strike and lower sales in North America. That compares with income of $74 million, or 37 cents per share, in the year ago period.

But shares of the nation's biggest tire maker hit a new one-year high of $35 Friday on the New York Stock Exchange as the company announced increased cost-cutting measures and said strike recovery was going faster than expected.

Keegan said Goodyear already has reduced annual production by 21 million tires, but wants to increase that figure to 25 million, saving the company $150 million by 2009.

The company needs to close plants to reach that goal.

"Additional savings are possible to the extent that production from the closed plants are transferred to existing facilities and/or are moved to low-cost countries," Keegan said.

Goodyear's stock has soared since July, more than tripling to a recent seven-year high. The stock in midday trading was up $2.12, or 6.5 percent, to $34.62 per share. It had one-year trading range of $9.75 to $33.90. Historically the stock was as high as $76.75 in 1998.

The surge followed Goodyear's decision to focus on higher-priced tires and end its lower profit private-label tire businesses, while cutting costs companywide.