TUI, Europe's biggest tourism group, forecast a surge in full-year profits, despite speculation about a hostile takeover bid and the possibility of being demoted from the German DAX stock index of the country's 30 biggest companies. In a half-year report, the company said it expected an increase of at least 73 percent in operating earnings for 2004 after returning to the black in the second quarter. "We can assume that in 2004, operating earnings will be significantly higher than last year and reach at least €420 million" ($504 million), TUI said. In 2003, operating profit amounted to €242 million. "With business in the core divisions having already developed better than expected in the first half of this year, prospects for 2004 as a whole are promising," TUI said. The company has reportedly commissioned commissioned the investment bank Greenhill to help draw up a strategy to defend it against a potential hostile takeover bid.