Audi roars ahead in first half of 2012

Audi, the top-of-the-range carmaker owned by German auto giant Volkswagen, said operating profit accelerated powerfully in the first half of the year and stuck to its full-year target.

Operating profit rose by 13.2 percent to 2.9 billion euros ($3.6 billion) compared to the same period in 2011, the firm said, registering sales of 25 billion euros, a gain of 16.2 percent.

Audi said it delivered 733,237 cars in the first half of the year, 12.3 percent more than in the first six months of 2011.

Chief financial officer Axel Strotbek said the firm was keeping to its goal of an operating profit at the same level as last year "as long as the economic environment does not darken further."

It said it aimed to deliver more than 1.4 million cars for the first time in the full year.

Last week, parent company Volkswagen also delivered upbeat earnings, saying that bottom-line profits in the first half soared by more than a third.

VW reported a 36-percent rise in net profit to 8.83 billion euros during the first six months of 2012 and a 23-percent rise in sales to 95.38 billion euros.

However, profits at another VW group member, truckmaker MAN, hit the skids as markets in crisis-hit eurozone countries collapsed.

Net profits plummeted to 40 million euros compared to 854 million euros in the same period last year.

The firm described first half operating profit of 471 million euros, compared to 762 million euros, as "unsatisfactory."

It blamed the results on the "extremely muted state of the global economy and uncertainty among many customers in view of the European debt crisis.

"For example, the overall commercial vehicles market in Spain and Italy, two states that have been hit hard by the euro crisis, contracted by 25 percent and 40 percent respectively," the firm said.

Nevertheless, over the whole year, MAN said it was sticking to its forecast of a "slight decline in revenue" for the group as a whole.

MAN employs approximately 52,500 people worldwide.

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