Bridgestone/Firestone Americas Holding Inc. expects to be in the black this year after suffering a recall-influenced loss of $1.68 billion in fiscal 2001, according to parent Bridgestone Corp., which said BFS's turnaround would help it triple earnings this year, to nearly $500 million.
Bridgestone's net earnings for 2001 slipped 2 percent to $143 million as BFS booked an extraordinary charge of $1.5 billion to cover the costs of the recall, related litigation and closing its Decatur, Ill., tire plant.
BFS's operating loss was $276 million due to efforts to pare down inventories and price erosion.
For 2002, BFS expects to be in the black as sales in the Americas are forecast to rise 4 percent to $7.7 billion.
Bridgestone/Firestone executives base their expectations for increased unit sales on an expanding retail sales network, new ranges of Bridgestone-brand car tires and new supply contracts with truck and bus fleets, Bridgestone said.
Globally, sales rose 6.3 percent in 2001 to $17.5 billion, and are expected to rise about 3 percent this year. Operating earnings fell 27 percent to $967 million, or 5.5 percent of sales.
BFS's troubles dragged down the operating income of Bridgestone's global tire business by 25 percent to $755 million.
Global tire sales improved 8 percent, to $13.9 billion, reflecting new product launches, enhanced marketing efforts and a weaker yen, Bridgestone said.