* CEO says not worried about Russian inventories
* Says Central Europe outlook improved in 2-3 weeks
* Early start of the winter may help the tyre maker
* Shares rise 5.3 pct
(Adds CEO and analyst comments, share reaction)
HELSINKI, Oct 30 Finnish tyre maker Nokian
Renkaat said the outlook for its winter tyre sales
has improved in the weeks since it warned weak demand and
inventory overhang would make it miss third-quarter
Shares in the company jumped 5.3 percent after its chief
executive said the outlook in Central Europe had improved since
its warning earlier this month sent the shares down 13
"Russia, Scandinavia, I'm not worried about. Central Europe
is still a question mark today, but it looks more positive today
than it looked, say, 2-3 weeks ago," CEO Kim Gran told a
Tyre inventory levels in Russia were not worrying, he added
after the company confirmed operating profit had fallen to 85.5
million euros ($110.3 million) in July-September, from 95.4
million a year earlier.
Winter tyre inventories at retailers and manufacturers have
been high in Europe due to a mild winter in 2011-2012. As
overall demand remained weak, companies have lowered prices
Handelsbanken analyst Tom Skogman said the CEO sounded
surprisingly confident considering the recent profit warning.
"The visibility continues to be weak in Central Europe but
the company seems confident it hasn't delivered too many tyres
to Russia this year," he said.
Skogman also noted winter started early in Finland and the
Moscow area this year, a good sign for winter tyre sales.
Nokian Renkaat last year made 28 percent of its sales in
Central and Eastern Europe and 38 percent from Nordic Countries.
Around 27 percent came from Russia and CIS countries, a region
that has become a strength for the company.
The company repeated its full-year forecast of improving net
sales and operating profit. Analysts expected 2012 operating
profit to rise 10 percent year-on-year to 419 million euros
($541 million), according to a Reuters poll.
($1 = 0.7749 euros)
(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl and Terhi Kinnunen; Editing by