AKRON, Ohio (AP) - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plans to invest at least $1 billion annually through 2010 to expand and improve plants and focus more on international growth markets such as China, Russia and Brazil, company executives said Thursday as shares fell sharply.
The Akron, Ohio-based company on Thursday outlined its strategy during an investors' conference in New York.
Goodyear shares fell $2.26, or 11 percent, to $18.25 in afternoon trading Thursday. Shares have traded between $19.06 and $36.90 over the past 52 weeks.
The biggest U.S. tire maker and third largest globally said it will invest up to $500 million to increase tire manufacturing in China for the Asia-Pacific market. The plan involves a relocation and expansion of its manufacturing plant in the northeastern city of Dalian.
Goodyear will also invest up to $600 million to expand production in Brazil and Chile, about $600 million to update and expand facilities in Germany and Poland and up to $700 million over five years to modernize manufacturing plants in Fayetteville, N.C.; Gadsden, Ala.; Danville, Va., and Topeka, Kan.
The company is counting on growth in its global markets and increasing sales of higher priced tires, Goodyear chairman and chief executive Robert J. Keegan told investors.
Goodyear began about six years ago to concentrate more on international markets, which now make up about 54 percent of sales, he said. The company is particularly looking to China, which has significant growth potential for consumer and commercial tires, he said.
The company on Wednesday said it would close its tire plant in Somerton, Australia, as part of its cost savings target of more than $2 billion by 2009. The plant employed about 600 workers.
Goodyear has about 70,000 employees and makes products in more than 60 factories in 26 countries.
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