Bridgestone Corp has reported a fall in full year net profits. However, the tyremaker has already said that it is looking to recover in 2010.

The group reported a net profit of JPY1.04bn (US$11.3m) for the year, compared with a JPY10.41bn profit in 2008 a fall of 90%. Sales fell 20% to JPY2.597 trillion from JPY3.234 trillion, as weak tyre demand and the tough auto market combined to hit the group's figures.

However, the company said that its performance towards the end of the year improved significantly. For its fourth quarter, the company saw an operating profit of JPY63.6bn, up from JPY12.4bn a year earlier, as it benefited from government incentives to buy new cars.

Bridgestone hopes to continue the momentum and is forecasting that net profit should reach JPY45 bn for 2010. It also estimates that there will be a 24% jump in operating profit to JPY94bn and a 9% rise in sales to JPY2.830 trillion.

Bridgestone has been hit, like all tyremakers, by the rising cost of rubber and, although its forecasts for 2010 are strong, has warned that demand may slow over the coming year as government auto purchase subsidies worldwide come to an end.

"Despite signs of economic recovery, we are bracing for a severe business environment given rising raw materials prices and a rapid shift in the global market structure for competition and demand," Bridgestone president Shoshi Arakawa told reporters today.

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