UPDATE 2-Goodyear's profit, revenue beat on higher-margin tire strength

(Adds details on forecast, earnings, CEO comment; updates shares)

Feb 8 (Reuters) - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co on Thursday reported fourth-quarter revenue and profit ahead of analysts' estimates, benefiting from higher demand for its more expensive 17-inch and larger model tires.

The company hiked tire prices last year to counter higher raw material costs, which led wholesalers to hoard tires, in turn, dampening demand.

"Our strong volume recovery in the quarter gives us positive momentum as we head into 2018," Chief Executive Richard Kramer said.

The company's tire unit volume rose 2 percent in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31.

Goodyear reaffirmed its 2018 segment operating income - the combined earnings of its three business units - to be between $1.8 billion and $1.9 billion.

However, the company cut this metric for 2020 to $2 billion-$2.4 billion from $3 billion, for the first time since it announced the forecast in 2016.

The Americas, Goodyear's biggest market, raked in sales of $2.18 billion, 6 percent higher than the year-ago period.

Revenue from the Europe, Middle East and Africa region increased 11.7 percent while in Asia Pacific, it jumped 13.7 percent.

Goodyear posted a net loss of $96 million, or 39 cents per share, in the quarter, compared with a profit of $561 million, or $2.14 per share, a year earlier, due to a $299 million charge related to changes in U.S. tax laws.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 99 cents a share, smashing past analysts' estimate of 76 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Total revenue rose 8.8 percent to $4.07 billion. Analysts on average had expected $3.96 billion.

Goodyear's shares rose nearly 4 percent to $34.75 in light premarket trading.

(Reporting by Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)