PARIS (July 26)—Groupe Michelin reported 13.7 percent higher sales for the first six months of 2000 over 1999´s first half. The rate of growth slowed in the second quarter and the company said operating earnings will fall short of the $665.1 million reported a year ago, putting it behind its operating margin goals for the year. Michelin blamed the earnings erosion on the impact of rising raw materials prices and fluctuations in exchange rates. Michelin will not release earnings figures until mid-September. For the half-year, Michelin reported sales of $7.09 billion. The company´s tonnage sales in North America grew 6.5 percent during the period, although slackening demand for truck tires led to slower growth in the second quarter.