Bridgestone posts 1st net loss in 69 years as virus hits tire sales

©Kyodo News

Major Japanese tire maker Bridgestone Corp. said Tuesday it incurred a net loss for the first time in 69 years in 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic dented its tire sales in all major markets.

The world's second-largest tire maker by sales value posted a net loss of 23.30 billion yen ($220 million) last year, a reversal from a profit of 240.11 billion yen in 2019.

Operating profit dropped 35 percent to 222.93 billion yen and sales fell 14.6 percent to 2.99 trillion yen, as global sales of tires for cars and light trucks dropped 16 percent and for trucks and buses 13 percent.

Bridgestone said tire sales were hit in the first half in particular after restrictions were imposed on outings and some businesses in response to the pandemic in many countries.

Sales of tires for new vehicles in North America and Europe recovered to post year-on-year growth in the October-December quarter but were not strong enough to offset the overall sales drop in the first six months.

For 2021, Bridgestone projects a group net profit of 261 billion yen on sales of 3.01 trillion yen, up 0.5 percent.