AKRON-Armed with forecasts of increased first-quarter sales and income, compared with the 1993 period, Goodyear Chairman Stanley C. Gault told shareholders attending the firm's annual meeting April 11 that he expects a fourth straight year of record growth. And with the company's marketing, product development and market expansion programs, Goodyear should continue to improve its position throughout the world, Mr. Gault and Goodyear President and COO Hoyt Wells said.
``The winners in the future will be the businesses such as ours that harness the imagination, the energy and the commitment of not just a few key people, but instead call on, nurture and use the imagination of every associate,'' Mr. Gault said.
Goodyear estimates indicate first-quarter sales could increase to $2.87 billion, about two percent above the year earlier period of $2.81 billion, according to Mr. Gault. Official results will be released April 25. First-quarter net income should increase 30 to 35 percent above the 1993 first quarter, topping out between $113 million and $118 million.
These increases follow the impressive year-end results the company posted for 1993, a tough economic period in overseas markets, he said.
In 1993, Goodyear's core business sales were the highest in the company's 95 years, tire shipments increased worldwide and corporate debt was reduced by $500 million, to $1.4 billion.
In the past two years, Goodyear released more products than in any comparable time in its history, Mr. Gault said, including the award-winning Aquatred and its sister tires, the Eagle Aquatred and Intrepid. Additionally, the firm's worldwide manufacturing facilities produced a record 161 million tires in 1993.
This year, Goodyear's Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. subsidiary intends to release a record-number of products. All of those new tires and a ``double-digit'' number of new Goodyear offerings are set to be sold in 1,000 more outlets in the U.S. than one year ago, according to Mr. Gault.
``Goodyear is stronger today than it has been in decades,'' Mr. Gault said. ``Our sales and our profits are growing and yet we're doing it with (18,000) fewer associates than in 1990, an impossible accomplishment without the total commitment of an organization willing to do far more, and do it with far less.''
The strong results achieved in 1993 will help Goodyear reach even higher goals in 1994, the CEO said, provided recent income tax restructuring and uncertainties about health care and welfare reform don't stifle consumer spending.
With lowered debt, the company intends to devote $500 million to capital spending, including the modernization of U.S. plants, increasing its manufacturing presence in Asia and the purchase of molds for new product offerings, Mr. Gault said.
Goodyear is looking to enter into ``a number of joint ventures'' to increase market share in overseas markets, he added, particularly in Latin America and Asia, a region with ``virtually unlimited opportunities.''
During the past 18 months, Goodyear has invested $120 million in expansions in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and entered into a joint venture with Ceat Ltd. to make radial passenger, light truck and commercial truck tires in India.
Mr. Gault also told shareholders the Goodyear board approved a 33 percent quarterly dividend increase from 15 cents a share to 20 cents a share payable June 15.