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Bridgestone posts net income of $724 million through three quarters

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Bridgestone Corp. recorded net income of $724 million on net sales of $15.8 billion for the first three quarters of 2004 ended Sept. 30. (This is the first year that Bridgestone has disclosed its financial results on a quarterly basis.)

Bridgestone posted ordinary and operating income of $1.16 billion and $1.25 billion, respectively.

"Generally favorable conditions" characterized the business environment for Bridgestone worldwide in the first three quarters, according to the company.

* In Japan, economic recovery gained momentum as export growth supported improvement in corporate earnings and as consumer spending revived.

* In the United States, the economy remained strong as capital spending rose and as the employment picture continued to improve.

* In Europe, economic recovery proceeded gradually.

* In China, the economy experienced strong growth. Other Asian economies also expanded steadily.

In the tire segment, Bridgestone recorded company-wide operating income of $983 million on sales of $12.6 billion. Strong sales supported by surging demand, mainly in markets outside Japan, offset the effect of rising raw materials costs on profitability. Sales and earnings also benefited from "successful product introductions and stepped-up marketing efforts worldwide."

Replacement and original equipment tire unit sales in Japan were up over the same period last year. However, tire exports were down from the same period in 2003, which Bridgestone says is a reflection of restraints on production capacity.

In the Americas, Bridgestone recorded operating income of $235 million on sales of $6.8 billion through the first three quarters. Unit tire sales in North America were strong in the replacement and OE consumer tire markets. Truck and bus unit tire sales were up as well.

"Sales and earnings in the Americas also benefited from strong performances in diversified operations and in Latin American tire operations," adds Bridgestone.

At the Bridgestone Dealer Meeting in Las Vegas on Nov. 2, Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. Chairman and CEO Mark Emkes told dealers that Bridgestone Corp. expects to record $21.8 billion in sales for fiscal 2004. Bridgestone also is forecasting operating income of $1.7 billion this year.

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