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Japanese tire maker Bridgestone says profit edged up 3.3 pct in latest quarter

Japanese tire maker Bridgestone says profit edged up 3.3 pct in latest quarter

Japanese tire maker Bridgestone Corp. said Tuesday that profit for the January-March quarter edged up as strong tire sales and favorable exchange rates offset rising material costs.
Net income rose 3.3 percent to 28.1 billion yen (US$235 million; euro173 million) for the fiscal first quarter from 27.2 billion yen the same period the year before, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement.
Sales at the world's second-biggest tire maker by volume after France's Michelin SA rose 9.0 percent to 769.9 billion yen (US$6.44 billion; euro4.73 billion).
Bridgestone said sales growth in the tire segment of its business helped to partially offset the impact of rising raw material costs on its bottom line.
However, operating income for the diversified products segment of Bridgestone's business, which includes commercial building materials, was hurt by severe winter weather conditions in the U.S.
Bridgestone saw sales rise around the globe. The weaker yen helped to boost sales in Europe, though rising material costs hurt operating income in the Americas.
In the Americas, almost all of Bridgestone's operations played a role in lifting sales by 7 percent to 336.4 billion yen (US$2.81 billion; euro2.07 billion), though unit sales of car, truck and bus tires fell off slightly from the previous year, the company said.
Meanwhile, rising truck and bus tire sales spearheaded a 24.2 percent jump in European sales from the year before to 120.8 billion yen (US$1.01 billion; euro0.74 billion).
Looking ahead, Bridgestone revised its profit and sales forecasts for the first half of the year, due in part to the yen's weakness against the dollar and the euro.
The tire maker said it now expects net income of 45 billion yen (US$376 million; euro276.37 million) for January-June 2007, a 28.6 percent rise from its previous forecast of 35 billion yen. Sales are now projected to reach 1.565 trillion yen (US$13.1 billion; euro9.63 billion), up 6.5 percent from the previously forecast 1.47 trillion yen.
Bridgestone's results have only in recent years turned around from losses related to a massive tire-recall scandal at its U.S. subsidiary, Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, seven years ago.
Bridgestone shares closed 0.41 percent up at 2,445 yen (US$20.45; euro15.03) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange shortly before the earnings were announced.