By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer
FAIRLAWN: Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. performed strongly in 2013 and took significant steps in early 2014 to improve its finances and its future, the company’s top executive told shareholders Monday afternoon.
“The past year was unlike any other in our history and several achievements deserve to be highlighted,” Goodyear Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rich Kramer said in his address at the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
Among the highlights were the reinstatement of a dividend for the first time since 2002 and fully funding Goodyear’s largest U.S. hourly pension plan earlier this year using cash generated by the company, Kramer said.
“Without the shadow of the unfunded pension obligation, we can now invest in our business and provide returns to shareholders,” Kramer said. Goodyear used $1.1 billion of cash generated last year to fund the pension plan for its Steelworkers union workforce.
Kramer noted that the company performed strongly last year.
Goodyear in 2013 reported net income of $600 million, or $2.28 per share, on revenue of $19.5 billion. Net income was up significantly from fiscal 2012, when Goodyear reported profits of $183 million, or 74 cents per share, on revenue of almost $21 billion.
Goodyear last year also began paying a 5-cents-per-share quarterly dividend.
Goodyear is scheduled to report its 2014 first-quarter results on April 29.
The meeting at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn ended in about 20 minutes. Other than directors and company executives, about 24 people attended.
Shareholders approved a “say on pay” nonbinding resolution regarding executive compensation. The proposal was backed by Goodyear’s board.
Shareholders also elected 12 directors to one-year terms on the board.
A resolution placed on the proxy by nationally known shareholder activist John Chevedden failed after getting just 19 percent of yes votes. Chevedden’s resolution called for Goodyear to separate the roles of board chairman and chief executive officer to create better oversight of senior executives. The company opposed the measure, saying in part it already has a lead independent board member in place “with clearly delineated and comprehensive oversight responsibilities.”
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP was named Goodyear’s public accounting firm.
Kramer took three questions from shareholders, one on executive compensation targets, one on board diversity and another wanting more specifics on the shareholder proposal outcome.
One shareholder said Goodyear had a “good looking board” but it was mostly male and needed more women and more diversity.
Kramer said the company is revisiting its diversity targets and that having a diverse company is a board priority.
This was the second year in a row that Goodyear’s annual shareholders meeting was held in the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn hotel in Fairlawn, near Summit Mall.
Goodyear historically held its shareholders meeting in the large theater inside Goodyear Hall on East Market Street in Akron. But Goodyear last year moved into a new headquarters building and sold much of its old campus to California- based Industrial Realty Group, which is starting to redevelop the site. (IRG says it plans to retain the 1,500-seat theater.)
Last year likely was the first time since 1937 — and perhaps the first time ever — that Goodyear’s annual shareholders meeting was held outside Akron.
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.