Today's fourth-quarter earnings announcement by Goodyear Tire & Rubber (NYSE:GT) proves the old adage "down but not out" might apply to the revamping tire manufacturer. Although the company has been restating its earnings and restructuring its operations for years, it still managed to pull off solid results.

Goodyear reported an impressive 11.6% increase in sales for the fourth quarter and a 9.1% rise for the full year. The primary factors in this advance were a beneficial currency translation, higher selling prices, and a more favorable product mix.

With improvement in all seven of its business units in the fourth quarter, Goodyear might finally be starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The company expects to continue this positive trend in the first quarter of 2004, with a 25% improvement projected for all segments except Asia (which it sees as flat).

You would need a huge scoreboard just to keep track of all of the restatements and charges the company has announced in recent years. If you want to dwell on the past, then Goodyear has little chance to keep up with chief competitors Cooper Tire (NYSE:CTB), Bridgestone, and Michelin. The company's brand name is still strong, though, and the future is looking brighter.

Checking out Goodyear's operating results in the rear-view mirror has been like watching a demolition derby at times. However, the company has confronted its mistakes and has become extremely focused on its future direction. If its improving results are any indication, it looks like the time has come to get Goodyear out of reverse and get the tires rolling forward again.

Inflate your ideas and roll on over to the Goodyear Tire & Rubber discussion board.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent over 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.