Volkswagen profit rises on US, Russia

Associated Press + More

BERLIN (AP) — Sharply higher sales in the United States and a stronger foothold in Russia helped German carmaker Volkswagen AG beat market expectations for its first-quarter profits.

Net profit rose to €3.19 billion ($4.2 billion) from €1.71 billion in the same period the year before. The company's results were boosted by accounting measures such as revaluing of options related to the company's attempt to fully integrate sports car maker Porsche and hedging against currency fluctuations

The company's operating earnings — which exclude such financial complexities such as the options — rose 10 percent to €3.2 billion, ahead of market analysts' expectations for €2.6 billion. Sales were up 26 percent to €47.33 billion on the year.

Volkswagen shares shot higher, trading up 4.8 percent at €121.05.

Volkswagen's business boomed in a stronger United States economy, where sales rose 34 percent, and in Russia, where sales climbed 77 percent to 66,000 vehicles.

CEO Martin Winterkorn confirmed the company's bullish outlook for rising sales in 2012 despite the uncertainties stemming from Europe's persistent sovereign debt crisis.

The company's results swung from a loss of €0.7 billion last year to a plus of €1.1 billion, lifted by the value of currency hedging instruments, the Porsche options and Chinese joint ventures.

Volkswagen is trying to complete a merger with Porsche but completely integrating the sports car maker has been held up by legal issues. Put-call options held as part of the deal have meanwhile continued to affect the companies finances as their value is re-stated. Options worth €8.409 billion at the end of the year were revalued to €8.990 billion, the company said.

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