PARIS (Feb. 25)—Groupe Michelin reported double-digit gains in both operating and net earnings last year, exceeding the company's own and the financial community's expectations. The gains prompted Michelin Chairman Edouard Michelin to say, "This illustrates Michelin's 'all terrain' ability on difficult roads. This good performance is the result of long-term tasks initiated several years ago." Michelin specifically cited cuts in operating costs achieved in Europe and North America in the past two years for the gain in operating profit, to $1.16 billion, or 7.8 percent of sales. Net income nearly doubled to $579.2 million, or 3.9 percent of sales, in part because of gains on the sale of real estate in North America. In addition, the company said it increased its free cash flow and was able to fund its respective employee pension funds adequately.