HANOVER, Germany (July 31)—Continental Tire North America Inc. suffered an operating loss of $47.7 million in the first half of 2001, dragging Continental A.G.'s six-month operating profit down 19.1 percent to $194.5 million. Sales grew 12 percent to $4.95 billion, dropping the earnings ratio to 3.9 percent. Continental blamed Continental Tire North America's loss on weakening demand for passenger and commercial tires in both original equipment and replacement markets, continuing pressure on prices and high energy costs. Continental's sales in North America fell 6 percent in dollar terms to $764 million. Among Conti's other business units, the firm's commercial tire business in Europe suffered a loss, whereas the passenger tire and automotive systems units boosted earnings measurably. The ContiTech engineered rubber products unit, which is being divested, reported a slight dip in earnings. For full-year 2001, Continental anticipates the continuing improvement of the passenger tire business in Europe will help the company offset the drop in earnings related to tires in North America, and result in an increase in overall operating earnings.