The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. yesterday announced a 35 quarter on record sales of $1.9 million.
Goodyear Chairman Charles J. Pilloid said the $45.5 million profit was the second best for any third quarter in the history of the nation's biggest tiremaker. Earnings for the quarter were 63 cents a share, compared to 46 cents a share last year when quarterly profits were $33.5 million.
Goodyear has been the most agressive tiremaker in terms of expansion. While most of the big five tiremakers have diversified, Goodyear has chosen instead to embark on a huge expansion program in the tire field.
Only two months ago, for example, Goodyear announced plans for a $75 million technical tire research center to be built in Akron.
Citing the fact that competitive pricing has depressed industry profits in general, Goodyear reported net income for the first nine months of its fiscal year was $154.5 million, or $2.14 a share, down 5.5 percent from last year's record $163.4 million, or $2.26 a share.
Goodyear reported record sales for the first three quarters, however, of $5.5 billion, up 10.7 percent from $4.9 billion during the same period last year.
In a recent interview, Pilliod reiterated his company's commitment to the tire industry. "There's still money to be made in tires, and we will make it," he said.
Goodyear is presently the industry leader in tire sales, with an estimated 33 percent of the original equipment market and about 25 percent of the replacement equipment market.
Goodyear is also the least diversified tire company, with about 85 percent of its business in tires. Firestone is next with about 65 percent of its business in tires.
But while the other four major tire makers, Firestone, General, Uniroyal and Goodrich are all diversiflying as a cushion against import competition. Goodyear has committed itself to improved new tire technology in a big way.
One project is a $180 million tire plant expected to begin production next year in Lawton, Okla. Shrouded in secrecy, the plant is supposed to bring the production into a new era of automation in an industry that has been traditionally labor intensive.
The Lawton plant will "revolutionize" production of Goodyear's new hot selling year-round tire, the Tiempo, according to Pilliod.
"As long as you are labor intensive, you have human error," Pilliod said.
Goodyear's healthy economic figures for 1978 may at least partially reflect the human error experienced by its top competitor, Firestone, which last week finally agreed to recall an estimated 7.5 million steel-belted radial 500's and replace them free of charge because of an unspecified "safety defect."
Confidential industry consumer research figures have shown Goodyear to be one of the top beneficiaries of Firestone's problems and resulting shrinking sales. But Pilliod said the Firestone fiasco has taken its toll on the industry.
"You can't have a company like Firestone attacked without it hurting the whole industry," he said, adding that Firestone is "an excellent company with a strong reputation," that will likely weather its problems.