TOKYO (May 11)—Bridgestone Corp. saw operating income fall 6.6 percent in the first quarter to $410 million as rising costs of raw materials ate into the profit margin.
Sales rose 7.9 percent to $5.62 billion with the European and Americas operations each contributing double-digit growth.
Bridgestone management expects the earnings squeeze to continue through the second quarter, although not quite as severe as originally projected earlier this year. First-half operating income is forecast to fall about 15 percent shy of the 2004 performance, but this projection is a 20-percent improvement over the earlier forecast.
In the Americas, operating income fell 5 percent from a year ago to $68 million on 10-percent better sales of $2.35 billion. Unit-wise, sales of passenger car and light truck tires in North America increased in the replacement sector but shipments to original equipment customers declined. Unit sales of truck and bus tires increased greatly in both the OE and replacement sectors.
Globally, the tire segment suffered an 11.2-percent drop in operating income while sales grew 7.6 percent to $4.46 billion on the strength of new product launches, increased marketing efforts and improved product mix.