In his address at the Goodyear annual shareholders’ meeting, chairman and CEO Robert Keegan said the firm is well positioned for the future thanks to ‘strong business platforms created last year’.

The firm has faced tough conditions in the US where the workforce went on strike last year over planned benefit cuts and plant closures. The three-month long strike dented net income by an estimated US$367m in the fourth quarter and the company also suffered from weaker demand in key markets.

But Keegan believes the worst is over.

“When you combine our core business focus with strong top line growth, a better cost structure and a stronger balance sheet, you have an organisation that is capable of moving forward at a much quicker pace than anything you have seen from Goodyear to date,” Keegan said.

“The market is presenting Goodyear with significant opportunities in 2007 and beyond. We plan to aggressively capitalise on those opportunities.”

The year 2006 will be remembered as a pivotal year in Goodyear’s strategic, operational and cultural transformation, Keegan said.

Keegan said he hopes investors and others also see Goodyear associates “as innovators not only of products and technology, but innovators throughout all aspects of our business.”

Keegan cited the company’s important financial milestones in 2006, including record sales of US$20.3bn and market capitalisation nearly US$5bn higher than the company’s low point in February 2003.

“This market cap increase is strong evidence that our intense focus on our Seven Strategic Drivers has created tremendous value for our shareholders,” he said.

“While there are still plenty of challenges ahead, we now have a proven track record and much stronger business platforms than when our journey began four years ago.”