By Oliver Hall
Bridgestone tyres posted $10.8 million in net income for 2009 on net sales of $28.1 billion.
Japan’s largest tyres manufacturer also reported a surge in quarterly profit after government incentives boosted car demand. However, Bridgestone forecast slower-than-expected growth this year as it faces high materials costs.
In a statement the world’s largest tyremaker announced: “In fiscal 2009, the company’s operating environment remained challenging.
“The economy in Japan continued to face a severe business climate, with weakened consumer spending and declines in private sector capital investment, which counteracted signs of recovery among some exports.
“Although the economic recession in the United States and Europe caused by the vicious downward spiral of the global economy continued, some sectors showed signs of stabilisation. Economic stimulus measures implemented by some governments can be recognised as one of the drivers of this stabilisation.
“In Asia, China’s business climate recovered, and although conditions remained challenging, the business climate in other regions began to show slight signs of recovery.”
Global tyre sales, which accounted for 83% of Bridgestone’s net sales, were down 18.1% to 2.1 trillion yen.
The major decline in passenger, light truck and truck tyre unit sales in North America was the result of a significant fall in demand, according to the company.
It added: “However, there was a significant increase from fiscal 2008 in unit sales of such strategic products as runflat tyres and UHP tyres in the replacement sector.”
In the Americas, net sales totaled 1.1 trillion yen, down 20% from 2008. Operating income, however, was up 59.2%.
Bridgestone credited the increase to “curbed expenses and a favorable performance by tyre retail operations.”