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Bridgestone posts 1Q tire sales gain of 8%

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Bridgestone Corp. recorded net income of 26.1 billion yen ($243 million) on net sales of 603.9 billion yen ($5.6 billion) for the first quarter ended Mar. 31, 2005. That compares to income of 28 billion yen (a 7% decrease) on sales of 559.5 billion yen for the same period in 2004.

Compared to 1Q 2004, operating and ordinary income for 1Q 2005 decreased 6.6% and 9.5%, respectively.

Tire sales totaled 479.6 billion yen ($4.5 billion) for the quarter, a comparative increase of 8%. Despite the increase in sales, operating income was down 11%, from 38.5 billion yen to 34.1 billion yen ($318 million). "Rising prices for raw materials and other factors offset the earnings contribution from sales growth," says Bridgestone.

Here are the company's sales figures by geographical segment for the first quarter compared to the same period in 2004:

1. Japan: sales of 268.6 billion yen ($2.5 billion), an increase of 6%.

2. The Americas: sales of 252.1 billion yen ($2.3 billion), an increase of 10%.

3. Europe: sales of 85.7 billion yen ($798 million), an increase of 11.7%.

4. Other: sales of 107.8 billion yen ($1 billion), an increase of 13.1%.

In the Americas, Bridgestone's operating income in the first quarter declined 5% from the same period the previous year, from 7.7 billion yen to 7.3 billion yen.

In the North American tire operations, unit sales of replacement passenger, light truck and truck tires increased versus 1Q 2004. Although original equipment truck tire units also were up, OE passenger and light truck tire unit sales were comparatively down.

Bridgestone projects net sales and net income will be up the first half of 2005 compared to the results from the first half of 2004. "Underlying the stronger-than-expected sales performance has been continuing recovery in the world economy and robust demand for tires, especially in markets outside Japan," says the company.

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