Goodyear Surprises Analysts With Fourth-Quarter Profit

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Crediting higher sales and favorable currency exchange rates, Goodyear Tire & Rubber (GT) reported Thursday it earned $107 million, or 44 cents a share, reversing a year-ago fourth-quarter loss of $330 million, or $1.37 a share. Despite a challenging economy and business environment, the world's third-largest tire maker said the quarter's results were solid as the company also benefited from lower prices for raw materials and other cost saving factors.The Akron, Ohio-based company recorded fourth-quarter sales $4.4 billion, a rise of 7.3% from a year ago, attributable to improved consumer demand worldwide and growth in emerging markets. Still, Goodyear said demand for its commercial tires in Europe and North America remained weak.

Goodyear's fourth-quarter results handily beat analysts' estimates of a loss of 9 cents a share on revenues of $4.1 billion, according to a poll conducted by Thomson Reuters. Excluding one-time items, Goodyear posted a profit of 14 cents a share.

"Tire demand around the world has begun to recover and we look forward to year-over-year global growth in 2010," Chairman and CEO Robert J. Keegan said in a written statement. Still, he said, "the degree of recovery varies considerably by geography and product segment."

The company's stock gained in premarket trading on Wall Street, with shares up nearly 2% to $14.17.
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