TOKYO (Aug 14)—Bridgestone Corp. slid $255 million into the red in the first half of 2001, as it took $573 million in extraordinary charges to cover costs associated with the recall of Firestone tires in North America and the scheduled closing of the Decatur, Ill., tire plant. The firm's operating profit slid 60 percent to $261 million, while sales rose 3.7 percent to $8.56 billion, aided by weaker yen-to-dollar and yen-to-euro exchange rates. For the remainder of the year, Bridgestone forecasts it will continue to operate in the black, although earnings of $85 million will be 44 percent below the fiscal 2000 performance. Bridgestone's tire segment sales rose 4 percent in the period, to $6.65 billion, on strong demand for company products in Europe and Asia and the weakening value of the yen. Operating profits fell 51 percent, to $302 million, as raw material costs climbed and the company made production adjustments to reduce U.S. inventories. Sales by Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. in the Americas rose 5 percent, to $3.7 billion, but the unit posted an operating loss of $74 million.