Patrick Raleigh ERJ On-line news editor
Tokyo-Better-than-expected overseas sales and a weakening of the Yen have prompted Bridgestone Corp. to raise its first-half earnings projection. For the six months to 30 June, the tyre and rubber parts maker expects an operating profit of around $774 million (Euro652 million)-a third higher than it predicted just three months ago-and sales of $10 660 million, in-line with its earlier forecast.
The upgraded forecast accompanied Bridgestone's first quarter results announcement, in which the group posted operating earnings of $446 million on sales of $5294 million, amid â€œfavourableâ€ business conditions. Economic recovery proceeded steadily in the US, gradual economic recovery in Europe, and strong economic growth continued in South east Asia and in China, said the 11 May group statement.
Bridgestone's tyre business posted first-quarter operating income of $365 million on sales of $4218 million. Operating profitability was hit by â€œthe surging cost of raw materials,â€ though sales strengthened on rising overseas demand, new product launches and vigorous marketing, the firm noted.
Bridgestone's non-tyre businesses posted a first-quarter operating profit of $80 million on sales of $1128 million. The performance reflected strong sales of automotive components worldwide, as well as roofing materials in the US, Bridgestone reported.
In Europe, Bridgestone achieved first-quarter operating income of $45 million on sales of $727 million in Europe. Unit sales of OE and replacement tyres for passenger cars & light trucks were "strong," as were truck & bus tyres sales, especially in the replacement market.
In the North American passenger car & light truck tyres sector, strong sales in the replacement market offset a sales decline in the OE market, said Bridgestone. Sales of truck & bus tyres in the region grew strongly, the group added.
Bridgestone's unit tyre sales in Japan were strong in the original equipment sector but remained flat in the domestic replacement sector and in export markets, according to the group.