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Japan's largest tire maker Bridgestone Corp. may report a 17 percent decline in pretax profits in 2005 to around 150 billion yen ($1.44 billion), due to higher prices of crude oil and other raw materials, according to a published report.

Bridgestone's (JP:5108: news, chart, profile) (BRDCY: news, chart, profile) operating profit is forecast to drop almost 10 percent to just above 170 billion yen in the year to December, its first decline in pretax profits in four years, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported.

The rise in crude oil prices would raise prices for such raw materials as synthetic rubber. Bridgestone sees no choice but to accept price hike requests from materials manufacturers, which are expected to erode profit by 60 billion yen, the report said.

The company's net profit, however, is projected to gain nearly 30 percent to a record of slightly less than 140 billion yen, as the firm returns a portion of pension assets to the government. The move is expected to lead to a one-time profit of about 74 billion yen, the Nikkei said.

The company expects its sales to increase 4 percent to roughly 2.5 trillion yen in 2005 on growth in car and truck tire sales in Asia outside Japan, especially China, the report said.
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