Bridgestone TOKYO—Paced by strong performances in North America and Europe, Bridgestone Corp. reported a 167.2-percent jump in net earnings to $798 million in fiscal 1998. Sales rose 3 percent to $17.1 billion.
Bridgestone/Firestone Inc., its U.S.-based subsidiary, reported record sales and earnings of $7.4 billion and $285 million, increases of 4.2 and 37.7 percent, respectively.
By comparison, Bridgestone's sales in Japan fell 7.7 percent, to $6.61 billion, pushing the ratio of international to domestic business to past 60 percent for the first time in company history.
Bridgestone's ratio of net earnings to sales climbed to 4.7 percent—up considerably from 1997 and 1996, but still shy of the 5.8 percent reported in 1995.
Its operating profits rose 12.4 percent to $1.78 billion, pushing the profits/sales ratio to 10.4 percent, its highest level in the past six years.
The company expects 1999 earnings to be on par with 1998, while sales revenue could drop as much as 4.8 percent because of effects of an appreciating Japanese yen against other world currencies.
KOBE, Japan—Led by strong sales in Europe, Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. reported a 36.4-percent jump in pre-tax earnings and a 6.5-percent rise in sales last year. Net earnings, however, dropped 13.9 percent because of increased taxes, the company said.
Sumitomo, which agreed in February to a wide-reaching global alliance with Goodyear, expects pre-tax profits to rise another 14 percent this year—discounting the effects of the Goodyear alliance, which will not start operating before September.
Sumitomo's 1998 pre-tax earnings rose to $111 million, while sales increased to $4.99 billion, leaving the earnings/sales ratio at 2.2 percent.
Net earnings totaled $38.4 million, or about 0.8 percent of sales—the sixth consecutive year the company's earnings have been less than 1 percent of sales.
Globally, strong sales by its European and North American subsidiaries offset a 3.5-percent drop in domestic Japanese sales. Pre-tax earnings in Japan fell 37 percent.
Sales in North America stood at $722 million, down slightly from 1997. Profits rose, however, because of reduced costs and the effects of improved distribution efficiency, said Sumitomo President Naoto Saito.
Operating profits also rose in Europe, where sales rose to slightly more than $2 billion.