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Bridgestone posts net income of $482 million for first half

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Bridgestone Corp. reported net income of $482 million (52.3 billion yen) on consolidated net sales of $10.64 billion (1.15 trillion yen) for the first half ending June 30, 2004. Net income was up 64% compared to the same period a year ago, while net sales were up 4%.

Operating income increased 29%, to $848 million (91.9 billion yen) during the first half this year compared to last year.

Bridgestone subsidiary Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. (BSAH) posted net income of $102 million on sales of $4.35 billion for the first six months. Those totals were 827% and 12% increases, respectively, over comparative results from the first half of 2003.

Operating income at BSAH improved from $31 million last year to $159 million this year, a 413% increase. Operating income was negatively impacted by the continuing increase in raw material costs, according to the company.

Reasons for the increases included strong growth in BSAH´s Latin American Operations and BFS Diversified Products LLC and BFS Retail & Commercial Operations LLC subsidiaries. An increase in tire unit sales by the company’s Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire LLC (BFNT) manufacturing and wholesaling operations -- including "significant unit sales growth in agricultural and off-the-road tires" -- also contributed to the positive results.

In spite of increased sales, BFNT posted a net loss for the first six months of 2004, "largely due to the continuing increases in raw material costs, as well as pension and health care expenses."

"Our success can once again be attributed to the efforts of our 50,000 teammates and loyal distributors and retailers, including our stores and dealers, across the Americas who sell our products," says John Vispo, BSAH controller and CFO and vice president of BFNT.

"Continued growth in major brand and high performance tire sales in 2004 demonstrates that our new products and product enhancements have been well received by the market. Particularly gratifying is the strength of customer acceptance of our recently introduced innovative lines of truck and bus tires. The success of new products is a key to our continued profit improvement."

Bridgestone forecasts net sales of $8.96 billion, operating profit of $300 million and net income of $180 million for BSAH for the full year, notwithstanding a projected full-year loss for BFNT.

For the full year 2004, Bridgestone Corp. is projecting sales of $21.86 billion, operating income of $1.71 billion and net income of $959 million.

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