Continental AG reported a rise in third-quarter operating profit on Wednesday to €293 million ($US372 million) from €262 million a year ago, in line with expectations.

The world's fourth-largest tyre maker is reaping the benefits of rising demand for its innovative safety technology and is cutting costs by moving operations to low-wage countries, Reuters reported.

Excluding a €120 million restructuring charge at its US operations in Mayfield, Kentucky, operating profit would significantly surpass 1 billion euros to hit a record in 2004, the company reportedly said.

"For 2005 we anticipate that sales and our operating result will increase further over 2004 levels," chief executive Manfred Wennemer said in a statement cited by the news agency, reiterating earlier comments.

Third-quarter net profit leaped to €209.2 million while sales were up 7.7% at €3.06 billion.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average expected third-quarter operating profit of €294 million and net profit of €146 million, on sales of €3.08 billion.

Reuters noted that Wennemer had said in mid-October that third-quarter growth in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT), excluding one-offs, would continue the successful trend from the previous two quarters.

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