Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co (GT.N) reported a much higher-than-expected third-quarter profit, helped by an 18 percent rise in revenue per tire, and its shares rose more than 7 percent.

Goodyear's focus on sales of higher-priced premium tires in the past year showed results as the $739 million gain in operating income in the quarter more than offset the $554 million rise in raw materials cost.

In North America, its home market and also its largest, Goodyear sold 8 percent fewer tires, but sales rose 18 percent.

The company's earnings of 72 cents per share, excluding one-time items, beat analysts' expectations of 27 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

It was the third consecutive quarterly profit for Goodyear.

Goodyear said it expected its commodities costs to rise more than 30 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier and estimated a full-year increase for rubber and other raw materials at 30 percent, in the range of its previous forecast.

In a conference call with analysts, Darren Wells, Goodyear's chief financial officer, said the company's raw materials cost was expected to rise more than $600 million in the fourth quarter.

Based on our announced price increases, we expect price mix to essentially offset this impact in the fourth quarter, Wells said of the commodities cost.

While the revenue from sales is expected to remain on a pace set in the first nine months, Wells said, the fourth quarter will show the number of tires sold to rise about 1 percent, down from a previous forecast of a rise of 3 percent to 5 percent.

Goodyear expects the global tire industry will continue to grow in 2011, although at the low end of ranges previously forecasted, the company said in a press statement.

Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear reported a third-quarter net profit of $161 million, or 60 cents per share, compared with a year-earlier loss of $20 million, or 8 cents per share.

The results included $35 million in charges for rationalizations, asset write-offs and accelerated depreciation; $4 million for discrete tax charges; and a gain on asset sales of $5 million.

Revenue rose 22 percent to $6.06 billion.

Goodyear shut its tire plant in Thailand on October 20 because of the floods there, said Wells. He said that the company does not yet know when it could reopen. He said less than 1 percent of company sales are affected.

Wells said the company will give updates on the impact of the plant's closing on fourth-quarter earnings.

Shares of Goodyear were up 7.2 percent at $15.17 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. The broader S&P 500 was trading essentially flat.

(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit; Editing by Derek Caney, Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman)