German tyre maker Continental said it had increased its sales and operating profit in the first quarter, in contrast to its French rival Michelin, Reuters reported.

Continental aims to raise its earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) this year, and chief executive Manfred Wennemer told journalists that it was on track to reach that goal after the first quarter.

This applies to the original Continental business, excluding the Phoenix auto parts business that Continental acquired last year, Reuters noted.

Wennemer reportedly said the company was in principle ready and able to make further large acquisitions on the scale of Phoenix, for which it paid almost €300 million ($US392 million).

Continental intends to grow by 5 percent per year and raise profitability even without acquisitions, Wennemer told Reuters, adding that the company intended to achieve this result even though it had brought new products onto the market such as the second generation EPS system or electronic assisted parking more slowly than expected.

"Three to four years ago, we were certainly more optimistic," he reportedly said, adding that today the industry tests new products for a longer period before adopting them.

Wennemer told Reuters Continental would continue to build up manufacturing capacity at lower-cost eastern European manufacturing sites and if demand did not rise as expected, the company could close some expensive production facilities in western Europe or the United States.