At its Investor Day in New York today, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) outlined its strategies for continued strong shareholder value creation. Management detailed plans to support sustained annual operating profit of 8% to 10% while also targeting more than 10% operating profit and $5 to $6 billion in annual net sales as a long-term goal. Cooper continues to move forward on the path to determine the future ownership of Cooper Chengshan (Shandong) Tire Company Ltd. (CCT), its joint venture in Rongcheng, China, per the process set forth in the agreement with its joint venture partner, as announced on January 31, 2014. The future ownership of CCT may impact specific plans and timing related to achieving the financial targets. “Cooper has strengthened the foundation of our business over the past several years by improving efficiencies and enhancing our technical capabilities to launch world-class products in the fastest growing and highest value segments of the tire business,” said Cooper Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President Roy Armes. “We have transformed our manufacturing cost base, resulting in a balanced and competitive manufacturing footprint, and we’ve achieved strong operating and shareholder results. Through solid execution of our strategic plan, Cooper is poised for continued profitable growth, having developed a geographic manufacturing footprint well positioned to sell into our key markets with great performing, cost competitive tires and with additional capacity to support future expansion. In fact, with our current assets, we have the potential to expand by 17 million to 18 million units at one-third the cost of equivalent greenfield plant expansion. Going forward, we are focused on continuing to improve our globally competitive manufacturing cost structure while delivering great products and driving demand for our house brands across our regions in the most attractive product segments. In addition, we plan to continue to increase original equipment (OE) penetration when it aligns with our strategic plan. Cooper remains committed to China as a growth region and to the global truck and bus radial (TBR) tire market regardless of the ultimate outcome of CCT ownership. Overall, our goals are aggressive, but attainable, and we’re excited to start writing the next chapter in our company’s 100-year history,” Armes concluded.
Operational Excellence Expected to Enable Manufacturing Efficiencies Worldwide and Drive Further Operating Margin ImprovementCooper has dramatically expanded its global manufacturing footprint through acquisitions in China, Mexico and Serbia to enable a cost-competitive, near-sourcing strategy with more than 40% of the company’s current manufacturing capacity in traditionally low-cost countries. The company has also significantly improved operating margin, achieving operating margins of 9.4% in 2012, 7% in 2013, and 10.2% in the first quarter of 2014, which compares with negative 7.5% operating margin at the end of 2008. This was achieved in part through Cooper’s focus on operational excellence, which led to a 16% reduction in manufacturing costs from 2008 to 2012. Cooper anticipates another 14% in manufacturing cost reductions by 2017 through projects that position Cooper plants worldwide to be even more globally competitive while retaining a focus on safely producing high quality products. These efforts include increased automation in production facilities and product family consolidation, which, by 2020, is expected to decrease the number of global product families by 60%. This will drive a reduction in complexity and manufacturing costs, enhance sourcing flexibility, and speed-up product development, while continuing to allow for product differentiation within global regions. Global Technical Capabilities Drive New Products and New Products Drive the Business By investing in innovation and technology worldwide, Cooper has successfully developed market-leading products and plans to accelerate new product development into the future. The company’s global technical footprint, with research and development (R&D) centers in North America, the U.K. and China, helps Cooper maximize its return on R&D investment through ready-to-use advanced technologies that are applicable across product ranges and by creating product families that can be regionally customized. Cooper has earned important third-party recognition for its products. In the U.S., new products—those introduced within the past two years—now make up approximately 30% of annual sales. Cooper’s product introduction schedule for 2014 calls for a record number of new tires to be launched during the year, including an innovative premium passenger car tire, the CS5 Touring.
North America Strategy Focuses on Continued Mix Shift, Strategic OE Positioning, Additional TBR Share and Expansion in Latin AmericaIn its North American Segment, Cooper has built a strong manufacturing footprint throughout the U.S. and Mexico. Since 2009, the company has expanded North America net revenues and has made the segment significantly more profitable. In fact, from 2009 to 2012, net sales grew from $2 billion to $3.1 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16%, or 54% in total. This was driven primarily by pricing and product mix improvements. In 2013, specific factors, including Cooper’s implementation of an ERP system and increased imports of foreign tires that hit the U.S. upon the expiration of the ITC 421 tariff, negatively impacted the North American segment. The impact of these factors has lessened over time, and Cooper’s North American Segment increased unit shipments in the first quarter of 2014. Even without the full contribution of Roadmaster TBR products, which were supply-constrained due to the now-resolved labor issues at CCT, the segment achieved operating profit of 12.2% in the first quarter of 2014. Going forward, Cooper’s North America strategy will be driven by anticipated enhancements in mix and margin, achieved through a continuation of exciting products entering the market, sales growth in the Cooper brand, converting capacity to grow sales of more premium products, and increasing the company’s presence in underpenetrated channels. In addition, while Cooper will remain primarily a replacement tire company, plans include increasing participation in the OE channel when it aligns with the company’s strategic plan. Overall, management expects that OE will ultimately account for no more than 10% of its total business in North America. Growth plans in North America will also be bolstered by leveraging Cooper’s footprint in Latin America, including expansion of manufacturing in Mexico and growing sales in key markets within the region.
International Segment Growth Expected to be Fueled by Continued Expansion in China and Core Market Growth in EuropeCooper’s International Segment has grown rapidly. From 2009 through 2012, segment sales grew at a 17% CAGR from $1 billion to $1.6 billion as units increased between 12% and 14% each year. Operating profits over this period expanded from 7.3% in 2009 to 9.1% in 2012. The company’s plan for the International Segment is to continue to drive profitable sales and ultimately grow the business to deliver half of Cooper's total global revenues. In China specifically, Cooper expects to drive sales growth by increasing the pace of new product introductions and significantly expanding points of distribution. Cooper plans to grow its already established OE business in China, as it is key to driving consumer replacement tire pull-through in the region. As previously indicated, Cooper is committed to growing its presence in China regardless of the ultimate outcome of CCT ownership, although this may have an impact on the specific plans and timing related to financial targets. In Europe, Cooper will focus on profitable growth in Western Europe by strengthening its product offering and improving brand awareness, as well as by driving growth in core markets such as the U.K. and Germany. In addition, the company anticipates leveraging local sourcing in Europe to improve customer service, continuing to enhance its manufacturing cost competitiveness, and growing in high potential regions such as Eastern Europe. Such markets will be served by Cooper’s Serbia manufacturing plant, which provides the advantages of competitive cost production and in-market manufacturing, while also having duty-free status with the European Union and Russia. Financial Plans Include Growth in Sales, Operating Profit and Cash Flow as well as Capital Expenditures for Maintenance, High-Return Improvements and Capacity Expansion From 2008 through 2013, Cooper increased annual operating profit from negative 7.5% to 7%, and looks to sustain annual operating profit of 8% to 10%. The company has started toward this goal by achieving strong first quarter 2014 operating profit of 10.2%. Cooper’s long-term goal is to exceed 10% annual operating profit and achieve global revenues of $5 billion to $6 billion.
The company expects to continue to improve cash generation, allowing for investment in high-return projects for its business and other uses. According to Chief Financial Officer Brad Hughes, “Cooper is a strong company with a positive future ahead. The ultimate ownership of the CCT joint venture may impact specific plans and timing related to our financial targets, as well as our capital deployment plans for 2014. CCT ownership must be resolved before we can be specific about these matters, yet we are confident that with any ownership outcome, Cooper is well positioned to grow and to continue to drive strong shareholder value creation,” he concluded.Cooper Investor Day Webcast An archive of the May 15, 2014 Cooper Investor Day is accessible to all interested investors and parties at http://www.media-server.com/m/p/re7afy2h or via the Cooper investor relations website at http://coopertire.com/investors.aspx for 30 days. Forward Looking StatementsThis release contains what the Company believes are “forward-looking statements,” as that term is defined under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, regarding projections, expectations or matters that the Company anticipates may happen with respect to the future performance of the industries in which the Company operates, the economies of the United States and other countries, or the performance of the Company itself, which involve uncertainty and risk. Such “forward-looking statements” are generally, though not always, preceded by words such as “anticipates,” “expects,” “will,” “should,” “believes,” “projects,” “intends,” “plans,” “estimates,” and similar terms that connote a view to the future and are not merely recitations of historical fact. Such statements are made solely on the basis of the Company’s current views and perceptions of future events, and there can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be true. It is possible that actual results may differ materially from those projections or expectations due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to: • volatility in raw material and energy prices, including those of rubber, steel, petroleum based products and natural gas and the unavailability of such raw materials or energy sources;
• the failure of the Company’s suppliers to timely deliver products in accordance with contract specifications;• changes in economic and business conditions in the world; • failure to implement information technologies or related systems, including failure by the Company to successfully implement an ERP system; • increased competitive activity including actions by larger competitors or lower-cost producers; • the failure to achieve expected sales levels; • changes in the Company’s customer relationships, including loss of particular business for competitive or other reasons; • the ultimate outcome of litigation brought against the Company, including stockholders lawsuits relating to the Apollo merger as well as products liability claims, in each case which could result in commitment of significant resources and time to defend and possible material damages against the Company or other unfavorable outcomes; • changes to tariffs or the imposition of new tariffs or trade restrictions; • changes in pension expense and/or funding resulting from investment performance of the Company’s pension plan assets and changes in discount rate, salary increase rate, and expected return on plan assets assumptions, or changes to related accounting regulations; • government regulatory and legislative initiatives including environmental and healthcare matters; • volatility in the capital and financial markets or changes to the credit markets and/or access to those markets; • changes in interest or foreign exchange rates; • an adverse change in the Company’s credit ratings, which could increase borrowing costs and/or hamper access to the credit markets; • the risks associated with doing business outside of the United States; • the failure to develop technologies, processes or products needed to support consumer demand; • technology advancements; the inability to recover the costs to develop and test new products or processes; • the impact of labor problems, including labor disruptions at the Company, its joint ventures, including CCT, or at one or more of its large customers or suppliers;
• failure to attract or retain key personnel;• consolidation among the Company’s competitors or customers; • inaccurate assumptions used in developing the Company’s strategic plan or operating plans or the inability or failure to successfully implement such plans; • failure to successfully integrate acquisitions into operations or their related financings may impact liquidity and capital resources; • the ability to sustain operations at CCT, including obtaining financial and other operational data of CCT; • changes in the Company’s relationship with its joint-venture partners, or changes in the ownership structure of its joint ventures, including changes resulting from the previously announced agreement between the Company and the CCT joint-venture partner; • the inability to obtain and maintain price increases to offset higher production or material costs; • inability to adequately protect the Company’s intellectual property rights; • inability to use deferred tax assets; and • the ultimate outcome of legal actions brought by the Company against wholly-owned subsidiaries of Apollo Tyres Ltd. It is not possible to foresee or identify all such factors. Any forward-looking statements in this release are based on certain assumptions and analyses made by the Company in light of its experience and perception of historical trends, current conditions, expected future developments and other factors it believes are appropriate in the circumstances. Prospective investors are cautioned that any such statements are not a guarantee of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. The Company makes no commitment to update any forward-looking statement included herein or to disclose any facts, events or circumstances that may affect the accuracy of any forward-looking statement. Further information covering issues that could materially affect financial performance is contained in the Company’s periodic filings with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). About Cooper Tire & Rubber CompanyCooper Tire & Rubber Company (NYSE: CTB) is the parent company of a global family of companies that specialize in the design, manufacture, marketing, and sales of passenger car and light truck tires. Cooper has joint ventures, affiliates and subsidiaries that also specialize in medium truck, motorcycle and racing tires. Cooper's headquarters is in Findlay, Ohio, with manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities within its family of companies located in 11 countries around the world. For more information on Cooper, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/coopertire.