Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. has posted net income of USD12m in the first quarter on higher tyre  sales and better use of its manufacturing capacity.

“While our outlook remains cautiously optimistic, we recognize that raw material costs continue to be volatile and have a significant impact on our results,” CEO Roy Armes said in a statement. “We expect that raw materials will continue to increase and remain elevated in the near future.”

Net sales were USD754m, a 32% gain on last year.

Cooper said that the stronger results for the quarter were driven by improved volumes and increased utilisation of manufacturing capacity.  Partially offsetting the positives were a negative net price and mix to raw materials relationship and higher products liability charges.

North American Tire Operations sales were USD532m during the first quarter, up significantly from 2009 net sales of USD439 million. 

Total light vehicle tyre shipments for Cooper’s North America segment in the United States increased by 19%, outpacing the total industry shipment increase of 13% reported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association. 

The company’s International Tyre Operations reported USD294 million in sales, a 77% increase on last year.