PARIS (Feb. 6)—Despite a slight downturn in business in the fourth quarter, Groupe Michelin's 2001 sales grew 2.5 percent to $14.1 billion. Improved pricing and a better product mix helped drive sales up despite a 2.8-percent decline in the tonnage volume, Michelin said. Operating earnings are expected to fall between $876 million and $960 million (6.2 and 6.8 percent of sales), based on preliminary evaluation of fourth-quarter data, the firm said. The fourth quarter drop of 0.7 percent was attributed to the effects of a "marked deterioration" of markets and the devaluation of the Argentine peso. In North America, Michelin claims to have gained market share in the passenger/light truck replacement segment and held its own in the truck tire aftermarket after losing market share in the first quarter. Fiscal 2001 earnings will be announced Feb. 26.