Bridgestone Gets Boost From Auto Recovery

TOKYO (AP) -- Bridgestone Corp. returned to profit in the first half and raised its full year forecast Friday amid a recovery in global auto demand that lifted tire sales.

The Japanese tire maker, running neck and neck with Michelin SCA of France as the world's biggest, posted a 44.5 billion yen ($517.4 million) profit for the six months through June. It had a loss of 39.3 billion yen a year earlier.

First half sales jumped 15 percent to 1.39 trillion yen ($16.2 billion), Bridgestone said in a statement.

The turnaround echoes a recovery at global automakers, including Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. of Japan and their international rivals.

Bridgestone's competitors are also reporting better results. Michelin returned to profit from losses, and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. reduced first half losses compared to last year.

Bridgestone, which did not break down quarterly numbers, raised its full year profit forecast to 91 billion yen ($1.1 million) from 77 billion yen ($895,000) it gave in June.

The stronger demand for tires offset the damage from the strong yen, which hurts Japanese exporters like Bridgestone.

The Tokyo-based company said sales rose in the first half in almost all regions, including Japan, North America and Europe.

Bridgestone shares ended unchanged at 1,577 yen in Tokyo.

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