TOKYO (Feb. 22)—Bridgestone Corp.´s net earnings plunged 80 percent last year from 1999 to $164.4 million, dragged down by a recall-related $510 million net loss by its Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. subsidiary. Despite the severe drop in earnings and continuing sales declines of Firestone-brand tires in North America, Bridgestone expects net profits to rebound to more than $400 million this year and for Bridgestone/Firestone to return to the black by the second half of 2002 after trimming its loss to $200 million this year, according to Bridgestone President Yoichiro Kaizaki. Bridgestone said sales of Firestone tires in the U.S. replacement market in January were off 40 percent from January 2000, but were partially offset by an 8-percent gain in Bridgestone-brand sales. Bridgestone Corp. sales fell 3.8 percent, to $18.6 billion, primarily because of the reduced sales of Firestone tires in North America. Discounting the effects of the Firestone recall, Bridgestone´s operating profit fell 32 percent to $1.5 billion, as rising raw materials costs and other economic factors ate into profitability, the company said.