VELP, Netherlands (Feb. 13)—Vredestein N.V. blamed higher raw materials prices and disappointing winter tire sales for a 98-percent drop in fiscal 2000 earnings. Sales, driven by acquisitions, rose 15 percent to $273 million, the company said. Fiscal 2000 net profit fell to nearly breakeven at $190,000, the company´s preliminary results show. For 2001, Vredestein predicts a return to previous levels of profitability, assuming an average winter season, further integration of recent acquisitions and tight control of the cost structure. Selling prices have been adjusted for the higher raw material prices in a large number of markets, it added. This year the company is preparing to meet one-off restructuring costs at its sealing systems division, and operating losses at Fietsbanden bicycle tires operation until mid-2001.