Goodyear

(GT) - Get Report

said Wednesday that its loss per share for the fourth quarter was narrower than Wall Street's projections, and that it is reducing its workforce by 7,200 in a cost-cutting initiative.

The tire maker, based in Akron, Ohio, said its losses totaled $16.5 million, or 11 cents a share, excluding extraordinary items. Eight analysts polled by

First Call/Thomson Financial

were calling for the company to lose 16 cents in the quarter. Goodyear earned $47.6 million, or 29 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Sales fell to $3.5 billion, from $3.7 billion in the fourth quarter last year.

The company said the increasing cost of raw materials, decline in demand from vehicle makers for tires and engineering products in North America and a soft tire market in Europe hurt the company's fourth quarter. The company said its cost-cutting measures and higher prices for its goods would save $150 million in 2001 and $250 million yearly after that. It also said it will save by "simplifying" its tire line offerings.

"We look for our results to show quarter-over-previous-quarter gains in the first half of 2001,'' the company said in a statement. "We expect results for the second half of 2001 to exceed those of 2000's first half.''

Five analysts are calling for the company to lose 3 cents in the first quarter, down from the 40 cents it earned in the equivalent period of 2000. Wall Street is expecting the company to earn 81 cents in 2001. The company earned 41 cents in the second quarter and lost 5 cents in the third quarter of 2000.

Shares of Goodyear fell 24 cents, or 1%, to $23.74 in recent

New York Stock Exchange

trading.