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MILAN, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Italy's Pirelli, the world's fifth-largest tyremaker, on Thursday slightly lowered its full-year revenue guidance on weaker Latin America and Russia after reporting an expected 9 percent rise in its January-September operating profit.
The group sees revenues of between 6.1-6.2 billion euros this year, down from a previous guidance of around 6.2 billion and compared with 6.15 billion last year. The company confirmed its target for 2014 earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) after restructuring costs of 850 million euros ($1.05 billion).
Pirelli, whose tyres equip motorcycles, cars and Formula 1 racers, said nine-month EBIT rose 9 percent to 629.7 million euros, in line with an analyst consensus provided by the company, helped by its focus on more expensive products, lower raw material costs, a better price mix and efficiency measures.
Nine-month revenues fell 1.3 percent to 4.53 billion euros, also meeting expectations.
Pirelli has managed to boost margins in recent years even as car sales in Europe fell to historic lows by focusing, since 2010, on more expensive tyres for brands such as Mercedes , Audi, and BMW - luxury carmakers who have weathered the downturn better than their mainstream rivals.
Premium tyre sales volumes grew by 20 percent in the first nine months of this year, strengthening the company's presence in all geographic areas, Pirelli said.
The Italian group's results compare with mixed signals from its competitors. Michelin cut its full-year sales goal and plans to rein in investment after third-quarter sales fell, weighed down by an emerging-market slump and weaker European truck tyre demand, while Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as raw material costs fell in North America.
Pirelli's results were released after the Milan stock market closed on Thursday. The stock, which is down 15 percent in the year to date, closed flat at 10.65 euros. (1 US dollar = 0.8061 euro) (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Valentina Za)