TOKYO (Aug. 8, 2003) — Bridgestone Corp. reported strong gains in income and sales for the first half of 2003, prompting management to raise earnings projections slightly for the whole year.
Bridgestone's positive results were aided by a return to the black by company operations in North and South America, strong sales gains in Europe and increased efficiencies at the firm's tire plants. The firm reported double-digit increases in both operating and net income – up 18.3 percent to $550 million and 30.6 percent to $267 million, respectively – while sales edged up 1.7 percent to $9.28 billion.
Full year earnings should hit $675 million, up about 4 percent from earlier projections, Bridgestone said.
In the Americas, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. (BSAH) reported a 42.5-percent dip in operating earnings, to $31 million, as raw material, energy and pension and health care costs ate into margins, according to Mike Gorey, controller and vice president of the holding company. The firm's net income was $11 million vs. a $14 million loss last year. Sales rose nearly 5 percent to about $4 billion in dollar-denominated terms.
“Although the company's performance is not yet where we ultimately want it to be,” Mr. Gorey said, “the numbers clearly show that we've stabilized the business and are on track with our recovery.”
Unit sales of passenger and light truck tires declined slightly due to decreases in sales of original equipment and associate brand tires, but this was offset by increased sales of truck and bus tires, BSAH said. In addition, the company said, sales of Bridgestone-brand tires were strong both at OE and the aftermarket, and demand for Firestone-brand tires in the aftermarket continued to recover.
BSAH anticipates full year net sales of $8.05 billion, operating profit of $130 million and net income of $60 million.