MUNICH -- Volkswagen Group reported first-quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates on higher demand at its Audi luxury brand.
Operating profit rose 10 percent to 3.21 billion euros ($4.26 billion) from 2.91 billion euros a year earlier, the automaker said today. The figure beat the 2.66 billion-euro average estimate of nine analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Sales gained 26 percent to 47.3 billion euros.
Volkswagen is thriving despite Europe's debt crisis. The German automaker is stealing market share from rivals with a model lineup that runs from the Up minicars to Lamborghini sports cars and 50-ton trucks.
The group's worldwide unit sales increased by 11.3 percent to 2.3 million vehicles in the quarter, boosting the automaker's global passenger car market share to 12.2 percent from 11.9 percent.
The automaker stuck to its target of matching last year's record operating profit of 11.3 billion euros as higher revenue and auto deliveries offset increased development spending.
Relying on continued expansion of car markets in Asia, the United States, Latin America and Russia, VW also stood by its goal to increase deliveries beyond last year's record 8.3 million vehicles.
"The outlook seems conservative after the first quarter, which should have been the toughest this year," said Juergen Pieper, a Bankhaus Metzler analyst in Frankfurt. "The results are very strong."
All group divisions, except the Spanish unit Seat, posted increased profit for the quarter. Operating profit at the core VW brand grew 5.3 percent to 1.1 billion euros. Audi's profit rose by 26.6 percent to 1.4 billion euros.