Volkswagen Raises 2010 Forecast

BERLIN (AP) -- Automaker Volkswagen AG raised its sales and operating profit forecast for 2010 on Wednesday, saying that its performance in the first five months exceeded expectations.

The company said it now expects the 2009 figures "will be significantly exceeded" but didn't offer more specific guidance. It had previously forecast only that the 2010 figures would be above last year's.

VW sold 6.3 million vehicles and had an operating profit of euro1.9 billion last year.

Unit sales and operating profit across the group -- which also includes brands such as Audi, Skoda and Seat -- "have considerably outperformed expectations in the first five months" of 2010, Volkswagen said.

It said it has been helped by strong demand in key markets such as western Europe, China and North America.

Exchange rate effects "had a positive impact on profit," it added. The euro has weakened this year.

Volkswagen cautioned that the outlook for the second half "still entails uncertainties" -- pointing to fierce competition and a difficult overall environment.

In a separate announcement Wednesday, the governor of Lower Saxony state, where VW's Wolfsburg headquarters is located, said he was giving up his seat on the company's supervisory board as he seeks Germany's presidency in a June 30 vote.

Governor Christian Wulff is Chancellor Angela Merkel's candidate and the favorite for the job, and would be prevented by law to combine the presidency with staying on the board -- the German equivalent of a board of directors.

No replacement was named, but Wulff's likely successor is David McAllister, a fellow conservative who has been nominated as the state's next governor. Lower Saxony holds about 20 percent of Volkswagen's stock.

Volkswagen shares were down nearly 0.7 percent at euro71.78 ($88.05) in afternoon European trading.

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