Cooper Tire 4Q profit beats Wall Street estimates


FINDLAY, Ohio (AP) -- Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. said Monday that its fourth-quarter net income fell by more than half, hurt by tough comparisons to results boosted by a hefty tax benefit a year ago.

Despite the drop, the results came in well ahead of Wall Street predictions.

Cooper said it got a boost from lower raw material costs, better manufacturing efficiency, higher sales volumes and lower product liability costs. Those benefits were partially offset by a customer shift toward less profitable products and higher costs stemming from the expansion of distribution networks and the promotion of the Cooper brand, the company said.

The Findlay, Ohio-based company earned $72.9 million, or $1.15 per share, down from $209 million, or $3.33 per share, a year ago. Excluding a $177 million tax benefit, the company earned 51 cents per share for the 2011 quarter.

Revenue rose 2 percent to $1.06 billion from $1.04 billion.

North American tire sales rose 5 percent while international sales dropped 9 percent.

Analysts, on average, expected earnings of 86 cents per share on $1 billion in revenue, according to FactSet.

For the full year 2012, Cooper earned $220.4 million, or $3.49 per share, down from $253.5 million, or $4.02 per share, in 2011. Revenue increased to $4.2 billion from $3.91 billion.

Cooper said it expects first-quarter raw material costs to be about the same as they were during the fourth quarter, though it predicted that they will trend higher in the long term.

Cooper shares rose $1.43, or 5.6 percent, to $26.82 in morning trading after jumping as high as $27.18 earlier in the session. FactSet says that was their highest level since April 2011.

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