Choice Hotels International Inc. said the number of franchisees of its branded hotels continued to rise in the third quarter, helping it post a 75 percent increase in profit.

Choice earned $21.9 million (54 cents per share) on revenue of $105 million in its third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $12.5 million (29 cents) on revenue of $97.2 million in the third quarter of 2001. Another factor affecting the growth in profit was an $11.7 million charge in last year's third quarter for losses on its investment in Britain's Friendly Hotels PLC.

In the first nine months of the year, Choice earned $45.7 million ($1.12) on revenue of $281.3 million, compared with $33.5 million (75 cents) on revenue of $249.4 million in the first nine months of 2001.

Choice, based in Silver Spring, franchises several brands of hotels, including Comfort, Quality, Clarion and Sleep inns. It had 3,434 U.S. hotels on Sept. 30, a 4.2 percent increase from the same time last year.

* USEC Inc., a Bethesda-based maker of enriched uranium for nuclear power plants, said it earned $1.2 million (1 cent per share) on revenue of $360.8 million in its first quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $4.7 million (6 cents) on revenue of $300.5 million in the same quarter of 2001.

The company said higher prices and increased sales volume led to the rise in earnings.

USEC said yesterday that although it expects to break even or post a loss for the next two quarters of its fiscal year, it still forecasts earnings of $9 million to $12 million for the full year.

* Sherwood Brands Inc., a Rockville candymaker, said it earned $325,030 (8 cents per share) on revenue of $52.8 million in its fiscal year ended July 31, compared with $2.2 million (56 cents) on revenue of $58.3 million the previous year.

Sherwood said its sales fell because of weak economic conditions and a slowdown in orders from a major chain-store customer.

* Trex Co., a Winchester, Va., maker of synthetic wood decking, said summer sales far exceeded its expectations and led to a significant increase in earnings and revenue in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

Trex earned $6.1 million (43 cents per share) on revenue of $49.5 million, compared with $3.4 million (24 cents) on revenue of $29.9 million a year earlier. For the first nine months of the year, Trex earned $18.2 million ($1.26) on revenue of $147.4 million, compared with $11.3 million (80 cents) on revenue of $99.8 million a year earlier.

The company said the upcoming fourth quarter is usually its weakest three months, as the company builds its product inventory to prepare for the peak season, which typically lasts from late winter through September.

* Lafarge North America Inc., a Herndon-based maker of construction materials, said its profit grew 9 percent because of higher prices at most of its product lines and because it held down costs at its manufacturing facilities.

Lafarge earned $142.9 million ($1.94 per share) on net sales of $1.1 billion in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $131.4 million ($1.80) on net sales of $1.14 billion.

For the first nine months of the year, Lafarge earned $196.5 million ($2.66) on net sales of $2.4 billion, compared with $152.1 million ($2.09) on net sales of $2.5 billion a year earlier.