NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 18, 2005) — Bridgestone/Firestone's net sales in the Americas jumped 12 percent in 2004 in part on higher passenger and light truck tire unit sales, though the tire maker did not make a profit in North America.
Nevertheless, the company expects its North American unit to be profitable before tax this year.
Parent Bridgestone Corp., based in Tokyo, reported consolidated net income of $1.1 billion for fiscal 2004—an increase of about 29 percent from the previous year. Sales in 2004 were up 5 percent to $23.2 billion, and operating income also rose 8 percent to $1.9 billion.
Nashville-based Bridgestone Americas Holding (BSAH) Inc. posted net sales of $9.15 billion and net income of $183 million. Besides the higher replacement units, the sales increase was attributed to a strong performance in unit sales of truck and bus tires plus strong growth in the diversified products and Latin American businesses.
“Our sales growth and overall performance this past year showed the strength of our Americas operations,” said John Vispo, BSAH controller. “While our North American tire business did not post a profit in 2004, our other business segments continued their impressive performances, contributing significantly to Bridgestone Americas' overall profitability. This year market Bridgestone Americas' third consecutive profitable year, a clear sign that our company is well on the road to financial stability.”
Mr. Vispo, also CFO and vice president of BFS's North American operation, cited rising raw material, pension and health care costs as challenges to Bridgestone/Firestone's North American Tire unit.
In 2005 the tire maker will continue to focus on improving the capabilities and flexibility of its plants and targeting sales volume growth. Sales this year are forecast to grow 4 percent to $9.5 billion, the company said.