Goodyear Swings to Profit in 1Q, Revenue Rises

CLEVELAND - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. swung to a profit in the first quarter by focusing on higher-priced tires and international markets. The results from the biggest U.S.-based tiremaker beat Wall Street expectations and its shares rose nearly 3 percent in premarket trading.

Akron-based Goodyear, the world's third largest tiremaker, said Friday it earned $147 million, or 60 cents per share, in the quarter that ended March 31. It lost $174 million, or 96 cents per share, in the same period in 2007.

Sales rose to $4.94 billion in the quarter from $4.5 billion a year ago.

Excluding various one-time items in the latest quarter, Goodyear earned 67 cents per share from continuing operations.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial expected Goodyear to post earnings of 47 cents per share. Such estimates usually exclude special items.

Its shares rose 75 cents, or 2.8 percent, to $28 in premarket trading Friday.

Robert J. Keegan, chairman and chief executive officer, said Friday that Goodyear's results in this year's first quarter demonstrate success of strategies to grow higher-margin premium product lines, reduce costs and pay down debt.

Its North American tire segment's sales in the quarter decreased 1 percent from last year. Goodyear experienced reduced original equipment sales, but segment operating income increased to a profit from a year-ago loss partly due to improved pricing and product mix.

The loss a year ago was in part due to costs from a 12-week United Steelworkers strike that started in October 2006. There were also large costs as Goodyear prepared to divest some engineered products ventures and make changes to salaried workers' benefits. The company sold nearly all of its engineered products business in a deal that closed on Aug. 1 for $1.48 billion to EPD Inc., of Washington-based private equity firm The Carlyle Group.

Goodyear has about 70,000 employees and makes products in more than 60 factories in 26 countries.

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