Volkswagen Says 1Q Profit Up 94.6 Percent

German automaker says its first-quarter profit nearly doubled to $637.9 million on an uptick in sales that improved in markets in Europe, China and North America.

BERLIN (AP) -- Automaker Volkswagen AG said Wednesday that its first-quarter profit nearly doubled on an uptick in sales that improved in key markets like Europe, China and North America.

The company, Europe's biggest automaker by sales, said it earned euro473 million ($637.9 million) in the January-March period compared with euro243 million a year earlier.

Volkswagen said its revenue rose more than 19 percent to euro28.6 billion in the first quarter compared with nearly euro24 billion the year before.

Volkswagen's brands include Audi, Seat, Bentley and Skoda. It is also a major shareholder in two of Europe's largest truckmakers, Germany's MAN SE and Sweden's Scania AB.

VW also acquired a 49.9 percent stake in Porsche last year, and plans to take over the legendary German sports car maker. VW says it sees compelling strategic, industrial and financial logic in the Porsche tie-up.

The figures included Volkswagen's Luxury Audi AG unit, as well as Skoda.

In a brief statement, the automaker, based in Wolfsburg, said that looking forward through 2010 it expected revenue and operating profit to exceed last year's results despite what it called a shift in volume between the markets.

However, it warned that volatile exchange rate fluctuations would "remain a drag on profit."

The company said it would continue focusing on "disciplined cost and investment management" in a bid to keep costs in line, while focusing on development of more ecologically-minded automobiles.

At the Geneva Auto Show earlier this year, Volkswagen showed off nine new cars, including its Sharan minivan and Amarok pick up truck.

It also said that it expects global deliveries this year to be higher than last year. In the first quarter, it delivered 1.7 million cars compared with 1.4 million in the first quarter of 2009, a gain of 24.4 percent.

That demand was noted worldwide, particularly in China, western Europe and North and South America, all regions where it said this year's figures were greater than last year's.

Volkswagen has said it wants to sell more than 10 million vehicles annually by 2018 as it pursues current world No. 1 carmaker Toyota.

The company's multi-brand strength, technological expertise, financial position and global presence helped VW get through the economic downturn better than competitors, analysts have said.

Shares of Volkswagen were up 1.6 percent to euro74.80 in Frankfurt trading after it announced its figures.

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