AKRON-Events unique to the individual companies, rather than any particular industrywide trends, seemed to account for the wide variety of results reported by five tire industry firms in the first quarter of 1996. At the positive end of the spectrum, Big O Tires Inc. more than doubled its net income for the three months, compared with the 1995 period, on a 13.8-percent increase in sales.
On the other end, TBC Corp. saw net earnings plunge 20.7 percent, while sales dropped 6.9 percent.
Myers Industries Inc. reported improvements in both sales and earnings-to record levels-while Bandag Inc. and Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. both suffered declines in earnings, despite higher sales.
Weak unit sales volumes in some of its larger foreign markets, coupled with a significant increase in operating expenses, drove first-quarter net earnings down 19 percent for Bandag Inc. to $15.9 million, though sales edged up 1.2 percent to $170.3 million.
The increased operating expenses are related to a strategic expansion program that Chairman and CEO Martin Carver said will position the company to ``capitalize on emerging opportunities,'' such as a tendency for trucking fleets to outsource complete maintenance functions, including tire management.
The increased expenses, combined with a weak sales trend, should keep the Muscatine, Iowa-based company's earnings below last year's levels throughout 1996, Mr. Carver said.
Net income for Englewood, Colo.-based Big O Tires Inc. soared 121.5 percent to $640,000 in the first three months of 1996. Total sales for the period swelled to $33.2 million from $29.2 million in 1995, with most of the growth due to the sale of five pieces of real estate worth $3.28 million.
Omitting the property sales, product and franchising revenues rose 2.5 percent to $29.9 million.
Findlay, Ohio-based Cooper Tire & Rubber Co.'s first-quarter net income fell 15.1 percent to $23.1 million, which Chairman Patrick W. Rooney attributed to ``the continued high costs of raw materials, and an inability to achieve a price increase on tires in the current market environment.''
Net sales rose 4.3 percent to $381 million.
Akron-based Myers Industries Inc., parent of Myers Tire Supply and Patch Rubber Co., set first-quarter sales and earnings records.
Net income surged 38.4 percent to $5.21 million on a 7.5-percent increase in net sales to $72.6 million.
First-quarter results for Memphis, Tenn.-based TBC Corp. were worse than company officials had expected, as net earnings tumbled 20.7 percent to $3.39 million and net sales slid 6.9 percent to $121.4 million.
President and CEO Louis S. DiPasqua attributed an 8-percent decline in TBC's tire shipments to the phase-in of its more flexible Total Advantage 200 marketing program, which led some customers to lower their own tire inventories in the quarter.