TOKYO (Aug. 8) – 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 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. In the Americas, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. 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 was $11 million vs. a $14 million loss last year. Sales rose nearly 5 percent to about $4 billion in dollar-denominated terms.