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Owens-Illinois dips despite reassurance on asbestos issues

Owens-Illinois Inc. saw its stock drift lower and its bonds surge after a top executive for the glass and plastic container maker said asbestos lawsuits will not cripple the company.
A day after buil…

Owens-Illinois Inc. saw its stock drift lower and its bonds surge after a top executive for the glass and plastic container maker said asbestos lawsuits will not cripple the company. A day after building materials company Owens Corning filed for bankruptcy protection to help it cope with more than US$ 5 billion of asbestos claims, Owens-Illinois chief financial officer David Van Hooser said his company“s asbestos exposure was much less severe and would likely fall over time. “We simply have no issues in terms of liquidity or our ability to manage the asbestos liability, including whatever additional amounts that may result, if any, from yesterday“s filing,” he said. Currency fluctuations and rising energy costs have had an adverse effect on earnings, but not enough to warrant a formal profit warning, added Van Hooser. Toledo, Ohio-based Owens-Illinois helped form Toledo-based Owens Corning – known for its Pink Panther Fiberglas insulation – in 1938 but is a separate company. Van Hooser said a key difference between Owens-Illinois – which has handled 223,000 asbestos claims totalling more than US $1 billion – and Owens Corning – which has handled 460,000 – is that Owens Corning kept producing asbestos-containing products until 1972, 14 years after Owens-Illinois stopped.

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