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Published: Saturday, 5/17/2014 - Updated: 2 months ago

‘Aggressive’ Cooper Tire plan targets global sales

Company: $6B a year in transactions doable

BY TYREL LINKHORN
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. is aiming to grow net sales by as much as 75 percent during the next six years, targeting annual sales of $5 billion to $6 billion a year by the end of the decade. Cooper recorded net sales of $3.4 billion in 2013 and $4.2 billion in 2012.

The Findlay company outlined its growth ambitions this week during a shareholders meeting in New York, setting what chief executive officer Roy Armes called “aggressive but attainable” targets.

Company officials pegged much of their growth plan on Europe, Latin America, and China, where they say Cooper is well positioned after acquiring manufacturing capacity in Serbia, Mexico, and China.

In North America, the company plans to focus on widening its commercial vehicle tire business and putting more emphasis on premium tires in the light-vehicle market.

Cooper also plans to focus on establishing itself as an original equipment supplier in North America. Cooper dipped a toe into that market last year, signing a deal with Ford Motor Co. to supply tires for two models of the Ford Focus.

“This is not something we’ve focused on in the past, and our intent is to change that going forward,” said Christopher Ostrander, president of Cooper’s North American tire operations.

As new car sales rebound and automakers add capacity in U.S. and Mexican plants, Mr. Ostrander said the original equipment market is expected to grow twice as much as the replacement tire market. By 2017, Cooper expects original equipment tires to make up 23 percent of the total market.

Still, Cooper will remain overwhelmingly positioned as a replacement tire company. Mr. Ostrander said original equipment would make up no more than 10 percent of the North American market by 2020.

The company also plans to focus more on premium tires and less on broadline tires. Officials say by 2017, two-thirds of Cooper’s business will be premium tires, which are considerably more profitable than broadline products.

“We believe Cooper is better positioned than ever before for the challenges and opportunities ahead,” Mr. Armes said.

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com or 419-724-6134 or on Twitter @BladeAutoWriter.



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