Truck maker Volvo's Q4 profit rockets

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By LOUISE NORDSTROM, Associated Press

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Swedish truck maker AB Volvo recorded a 46 percent rise in fourth-quarter profits after a surge in sales it described as the best it has seen in more than two decades.

The company said Friday that its net profit shot up to 4.7 billion ($700 million) in the three-month period, up drastically from 3.2 billion kronor a year ago.

Shares in the company rose 2.2 percent to 92.70 kronor on the Stockholm stock exchange, bucking the wider market.

For the full year, it posted a profit of 17.8 billion kronor, up from 10.9 billion kronor in 2010.

Revenues, which were mainly driven by strong sales in its key truck unit, rose in all regions and rocketed to 86.5 billion kronor in the quarter, an 18 percent rise from the previous year.

CEO Olof Persson described it as the best posted since the company sold its car division in 1999. "If we review the full-year 2011, Volvo Group generated the highest net sales, the best operating income and the highest operating margin to date," he said.

Profitability also increased in the quarter, as Volvo's operating margin widened to 7.9 percent from 7.5 percent.

Persson added that Volvo's truck brands increased their market share on the European market to a combined 26 percent.

Since it parted from the car division, Volvo has grown into one of the world's biggest truck makers, with brands including Volvo, Mack, Renault and UD trucks. It also makes buses, engines and construction equipment. Volvo sold its car division in 1999 to Ford Motor Co., which recently offloaded it to China's Geely.

In its outlook for the coming year, it retained its forecasts for demand of heavy-duty trucks in Europe, North America and Brazil.

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