At its Investor Day, held in New York on 15 May, Cooper Tire & Rubber outlined the measures it will implement to support the company’s goal of sustained annual operating profit in the eight to ten per cent range and, over the long term, operating profit above ten per cent plus annual net sales in the vicinity of US$5 billion to $6 billion.
As Cooper Tire & Rubber enters its centennial year, the US tyre maker has reported first quarter operating profit slightly below the record result achieved last year. On the back of net sales of US$796 million, 7.5 per cent lower than a year earlier, Cooper achieved a quarter operating profit of $81 million, 16.5 per cent down on the first quarter 2013 operating profit, which was the highest ever in the company’s 100-year history. Operating profit was 10.2 per cent of net sales. The company reported net income attributable to Cooper Tire & Rubber Company of $0.71 per share, or $45 million, in the first quarter. This compares with $56 million, or $0.87 per share, for the same period last year.
Less than two weeks after releasing overdue third quarter 2013 results that reflected the disruptions experienced at Cooper Chengshan in China – a situation that cost the company US$56 million in negative impact, including $47 million in lower volumes and $9 million in manufacturing inefficiencies – Cooper Tire & Rubber has published its fourth quarter and full year 2013 figures. Sales, operating profit and net profit are all lower than in 2012.
Cooper Tire has released its 2013 third quarter financial report, carrying with it the scars of the failed Apollo Tyre deal and the linked issues with the Cooper Chengshan (Shandong) Tire Company (CCT) joint venture. Cooper could not report before now as a result of unrest and lack of cooperation at CCT’s Rongcheng facility in reaction to Apollo’s attempted acquisition. The company said that it will produce Q4 and full 2013 financial reports later in March.
It appears to be a case of once bitten, twice shy for Apollo Tyres. Following its experience with Cooper Tire & Rubber, and particularly its joint venture subsidiary Cooper Chengshan, the Indian tyre maker seems ready to give China a wide berth for the time being.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has signed an agreement with Chengshan Group Company Ltd. According to the Findlay, Ohio-based tyremaker, the deal begins with the commitment that the Chinese joint venture Cooper Chengshan Tire (CCT) business will be independently valued and is said to position Cooper to resume regular financial reporting. Tyres & Accessories understands that the deal sets a floor value of at least US$435 million for the total company and perhaps more if the independent valuation comes in higher. Cooper’s share price rose 2.75 per cent (correct at time of publication) in response to the news.
Although production of Cooper brand tyres at the Cooper Chengshan (Shandong) Tire joint venture facility will soon recommence, Cooper Tire & Rubber has cautioned that returning to normal financial reporting may take a little longer.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is suggesting that production of Cooper branded tyres is set to restart at the company’s Cooper Chengshan (Shandong) Tire (CCT) joint venture facility in Rongcheng, China. Production was halted when the workers at the Chinese joint venture company became embroiled in a significant industrial dispute with the US firm linked to the erstwhile Apollo Tyres takeover bid.
As late as 15 November, Cooper Tire & Rubber wrote in a statement that it “continues to seek the expeditious closing of the merger with Apollo Tyres.” Yet Sunam Sarkar, chief financial officer at Apollo Tyres, opines that Cooper’s fidelity as a partner was in question from the very start – a point that only came to light later on.
Writing on Reuters Breakingviews, corporate finance columnist Una Galani draws attention to how financial institutions contributed towards the current tensions between Apollo Tyres and Cooper Tire & Rubber. She opines that Apollo’s move to renegotiate its Cooper acquisition deal and seek a buying price less than the US$2.5 billion originally offered was pushed by attempts from Apollo’s lenders to extricate themselves from the takeover agreement.
As the Chinese government announced the modernization of its governance system – including further acknowledge of the role market forces play in its development – the minister responsible for the tyre industry joined other dignitaries in opening Reifen China 2013 in Shanghai today. Early visitor numbers are not yet available, but there are anecdotal indications that the show is on-track to achieve is pre-exhibition goals in terms of both visitor and exhibitor numbers. The show’s organisers also launched RubberTech Europe 2014 preparations on opening day (more on this below).
A filing Cooper Tire & Rubber submitted with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on 12 November does little to raise hopes that the company can provide Apollo Tyres’ creditors with financial information for the quarter to 30 September 2013 by tomorrow, as required in order for Cooper not to breach its merger agreement.
Cooper Tire & Rubber Company is appealing the partial ruling made by the Delaware Chancery Court last week. The appeal was filed with the Delaware Supreme Court on 12 November and asks the court to rule on it on an expedited basis – before 31 December 2013, the date through which Cooper’s agreement with Apollo Tyres remains in effect. Cooper confirms that until that date, the 8 November partial ruling requires both parties to continue performing their obligations under the merger agreement.
One snippet of information to emerge from this week’s Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. v. Apollo Holdings Pvt Ltd court case is that Apollo attempted to eliminate opposition to its Cooper Tire buyout by acquiring the 35 per cent share in Cooper Chengshan held by Cooper’s joint venture partner. This potential problem-solver failed when the sum Apollo offered fell way short of the Chengshan Group’s expectations.
Apollo Tyres’ planned takeover of Cooper Tire appears to be in serious jeopardy as the latest court proceedings reveal the depth mistrust between the two companies. Cooper’s suggestion that Apollo has “buyer’s remorse” and is using the industrial dispute at Cooper Chengshan as a way of sabotaging the deal is the clearest example of this yet. The question of whether or not Apollo is putting everything it can into closing the deal is at the centre of the case. Apollo says it is doing everything it can despite the Chengshan and USW issues. Cooper says these are being used as delay tactics.