TOKYO, Japan — Thanks to the much-publicized tire recalls and subsequent lawsuits endured by its Bridgestone/Firestone subsidiary, Bridgestone Corp.’s profit fell two per cent in 2001.
Chief executive Shigeo Watanabe says recovery is in sight, adding 600 lawsuits related to the recalled tires blamed for fatal accidents have been settled, although he refused to say how many cases were still pending.
“We foresee a turnaround in our North American business,” says Watanabe.
For 2002, Bridgestone profits are expected to more than triple to 65 billion yen as sales rise to 2.2 trillion yen, the company reports.
The projections are mainly based on prospects for stronger sales in the U.S. as new Bridgestone-brand products get introduced and retail channels are expanded.
In August, 2000, Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone/Firestone launched a recall of 6.5 million tires after the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration began investigating tires suspected in hundreds of deaths and injuries. Last May, Ford began a US$3-billion program to replace 13 million additional tires.
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