Bridgestone posts sales of $21.5 billion in '03

Feb. 20, 2004

Bridgestone Corp. posted net income of 88.7 billion yen on net sales of 2.304 trillion yen for its fiscal year ended Dec. 31, 2003. That compares to net income of 45.3 billion yen on sales of 2.248 trillion yen in 2002.

Taking the yen-to-dollar exchange rate into account, Bridgestone posted net income of $800 million on net sales of $21.5 billion in 2003.

Worldwide tire sales were up 2% in 2003 vs. 2002, to $1.838 trillion yen ($17.2 billion). Bridgestone credited the increase to "successful product introductions and effective marketing programs in markets worldwide." However, the company announced a 4% decrease in operating income for the tire business segment, "largely because of the rising cost of raw materials and pension plan-related amortization costs."

Unit sales were adversely affected by a fire that destroyed the rubber mixing area at Bridgestone's Tochigi, Japan, plant in September 2003.

Bridgestone Americas Holding Inc. recorded overall sales of $9.1 billion, down 1% compared to the previous year "because of the weakening of the dollar against the yen." Operating income, however, was up 5%, to $180 million.

In its official consolidated business and financial results for 2003, Bridgestone Corp. stated its outlook for the future as follows:

"The operating environment appears likely to remain challenging in 2004. Adverse factors include the rise in prices for natural rubber and other raw materials and the weakness of the dollar. Those factors could offset the positive contribution from generally strong economic trends in the United States and in Asian nations.

"In Japan, management expects vigorous marketing efforts to achieve an increase in unit sales of replacement tires despite weak demand. They project declines in unit sales of original equipment tires in Japan and in unit exports of tires.

"Management projects increases in units sales in truck and bus tires and passenger car and light truck tires in the Americas. They expect demand in the Americas to remain generally strong.

"Management also projects increases in unit sales of truck and bus tires and passenger and light truck tires in Europe. They expect European demand to remain strong, too."

Bridgestone projects full-year net sales of 2.3 trillion yen for 2004, with 52% of that coming in the second half.

Bridgestone also declared a 15-cent per share dividend for the year.