* Q2 sales 419 million euros vs forecast 413 million
* Operating profit 94 million euros, in line with forecasts
* Shares up 4.4% (Adds background, details)
HELSINKI, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Finland’s Nokian Tyres met second-quarter profit forecasts on Tuesday and posed a smaller-than-expected drop in sales, helping its shares recover from a three-month low set the previous session.
The company, which faces tough competition in the central European replacement car tyre market, had in June cut its full-year profit outlook, saying it expected operating profit to be lower than in 2018 instead of remaining flat.
Nokian, set to add a new production facility in Tennessee to its two existing plants in Russia and Finland, said it expected weakness in central Europe to continue through the rest of the year, adding there was also uncertainty in Russia.
But it was pressing on with its growth plan.
“Our focus is on executing our strategic projects, especially the U.S. factory ramp-up,” Chief Executive Hille Korhonen said in a statement, adding commercial production at the facility was expected to begin in early 2020.
Second-quarter sales fell 2.3% to 419 million euros ($469 million) but topped the average 413 million expected by analysts in a Refinitiv poll.
Operating profit fell nearly 13% to 94 million euros ($105.4 million), bang in line with forecasts.
Nokian shares were up 4.4% at 25.56 euros by 1223 GMT, recovering from a low of 25.03 seen on Monday, their lowest since early May.
$1 = 0.8929 euros Reporting by Anne Kauranen Editing by Jason Neely and David Holmes