PARIS -- Europe's biggest tire maker Michelin posted a slight rise in third-quarter sales on Monday, and said car and truck replacement markets had slowed significantly in the period.
The company said sales rose to 3.843 billion euros ($4.85 billion) in the three months to end-September, up from 3.801 billion a year earlier. Nine-month sales stood at 11.664 billion euros, up from 11.149 billion in 2003.
Michelin said nine-month sales had benefited from an improved product mix, which had helped offset high raw material costs, and from higher sales volumes, despite a slowdown in third-quarter growth.
"Based upon nine month performance, Michelin's confidence in its ability to achieve visible improvements in its operational performance in 2004 is unchanged," it said in a statement.
The company said the markets for replacement car and light truck tires as well as replacement truck tires slowed significantly in the third quarter, after enjoying strong growth in the first half.
"This is in line with group expectations for full-year markets to revert to their long-term annual growth trend," the company said in a statement.
The slowdown was partly due to dealers having built up inventories in anticipation of the various price increases implemented by tyre makers throughout the first half of the year, Michelin said.