Despite a slight downturn in business in the fourth quarter, Group Michelin's 2001 sales grew 2.5 percent to $14.1 billion.
Improved pricing and a better product mix helped drive sales up despite a 2.8-percent decline in the tonnage volume, Michelin said.
Operating earnings are expected to fall between $876 and $960 million (6.2 and 6.8 percent of sales), based on preliminary evaluation of fourth-quarter data, Michelin said.
The company attributed its fourth-quarter sales drop of 0.7 percent to $3.65 billion, to the effects of a ``marked deterioration'' of markets and the devaluation of the Argentine peso.
In North America, Michelin claims to have gained market share in the passenger/light truck replacement segment-Michelin brand sales were up 6 percent in a market that declined 3.4 percent-and held its own in the truck tire aftermarket after losing market share in the first quarter.
The passenger/light truck gain included 2.6 million tires Michelin supplied as part of Ford Motor Co.'s recall of 13 million Firestone Wildnerness tires.
Michelin will announce fiscal 2001 earnings Feb. 26.