CALHOUN, Ga., Feb 7 (Reuters) - Mohawk Industries Inc., the nation's second-largest carpet maker, on Thursday reported a 51 percent rise in fourth-quarter earnings on increased sales and reduced expenses.

The company reported net earnings for the quarter ended Dec. 31 of $59.2 million, or $1.11 per share, up from $39.3 million, or 74 cents, a year earlier. Sales for the quarter were up 7 percent to $895.8 million from $837.9 million. The company said it had reduced administrative expenses and cut interest expenses, in part by cutting its debt by 48 percent.

The Calhoun, Georgia-based company, one of the largest carpet makers in the world, said that it was ``not totally confident'' that sales would recover as quickly as coming quarters as they had in the past quarter because of economic uncertainty.

The company forecast that first quarter earnings-per-share growth would be 20 percent to 30 percent over the year-earlier period and second-quarter EPS growth would be 15 percent to 20 percent.