ADELAIDE, Australia (Feb. 2)—Tire manufacturing at Bridgestone Australia Ltd.'s Salisbury plant looks "more assured" following operating improvements related to a new labor agreement signed last year with local unions, the company said in its year-end financial review.
For the year ended Dec. 31, the company posted a 15.3-percent drop in net earnings to $6.9 million while sales improved 5 percent to $342.3 million. For 2004, the company's directors are optimistic, but warned high raw material prices will keep a lid on "any significant scope for major profit improvement."
Changes made in manufacturing during the second half of the year resulted in improvement in the firm's profitability. Workers, threatened earlier in the year with a lockout, approved in September a three-year agreement that will raise wages 9 percent over the life of the deal while maintaining existing work rules and regulations.
Separately, the firm reported a tax dispute it has had with the Australian Taxation Office since 1990 could be heard in federal court this year. At stake is a potential judgment of nearly $34 million, the company warned shareholders, while at the same time saying the directors "are reasonably confident of success."