Why Goodyear (GT) Shares are Driving Higher on Thursday

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT) shares were higher on Thursday as fourth-quarter profits beat estimates and financial targets through to 2016 were reaffirmed.

By midmorning, shares had gained 6.4% to $25.71.

In the three months to December, the tire giant recorded better-than-expected earnings of 74 cents a share, 12 cents higher than analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had expected.

Net income more than doubled from the year-ago quarter to $202 million, due in part to increased profitability in its North America business.

"Our outstanding fourth quarter and full-year earnings confirm that our strategy is working and demonstrate Goodyear's ability to deliver sustainable earnings growth and strong free cash flow," said CEO Richard Kramer in a statement.

Earnings which exceeded expectations overshadowed revenue which missed analyst targets. Quarterly sales totaled $4.8 billion, 5% lower than a year earlier, and fell short of consensus by $160 million.

Though tire sales remained strong, lower sales in other parts of its business impacted revenue, particularly third-party chemical sales in North America and unfavorable forex conversions.

"As industry volumes recover, we continue to see mixed growth rates globally, but there is strong growth in the high-value-added segments we are targeting," added Kramer.

Management reiterated its 2014 to 2016 financial targets, including annual segment operating income growth between 10% and 15%. Current-year unit volumes are expected to increase 2% to 3%.

TheStreet Ratings team rates GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B. The team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER CO (GT) a BUY. This is driven by several positive factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any weaknesses, and should give investors a better performance opportunity than most stocks we cover. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, compelling growth in net income, notable return on equity, good cash flow from operations and impressive record of earnings per share growth. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated."

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